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Osweiler picks a fine time to shine

 
Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye knocks the ball away from Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper during the second half. Bouye also picks up one of three interceptions of Connor Cook in the game.
Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye knocks the ball away from Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper during the second half. Bouye also picks up one of three interceptions of Connor Cook in the game.
Published Jan. 8, 2017

HOUSTON — Brock Osweiler finally looked like the player Houston spent $72 million on, throwing for a touchdown and running for another to lead the Texans to a 27-14 wild-card playoff win over the Raiders on Saturday.

Osweiler, benched on Dec. 18, got his job back this week with Tom Savage out with a concussion and played his best game of the season to give the Texans their first playoff victory since the 2012 season.

Houston and its top-ranked defense, led by Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, bounced back after an embarrassing 30-0 wild-card loss to Kansas City last season to advance to face either the Chiefs or Patriots in the divisional round next weekend.

"We've been doing it all season as a defense," Clowney said. "We'll just continue to play as a unit."

The Raiders' first trip to the playoffs since they lost the Super Bowl to the Bucs after the 2002 season ended with a thud behind the struggles of third-string rookie Connor Cook. He threw for 161 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

"It was his first start, on the road, in a playoff game, against the No. 1-ranked defense. It was a tough draw for him," coach Jack Del Rio said. "We had hopes that we would be able to do enough around him so he wouldn't have to do as much."

Cook became the first quarterback to make his first start in a playoff game after Derek Carr broke his leg two weeks ago and Matt McGloin injured his shoulder Sunday. His performance wasn't helped by star left tackle Donald Penn, a former Buc, missing the game with a knee injury.

"We missed Donald, he had a great year for us," Del Rio said. "Losing a Pro Bowl tackle was a blow."

Houston led by 13 at halftime and made it 27-7 on a 1-yard run by Osweiler early in the fourth quarter. The Raiders' Andre Holmes caught an 8-yard touchdown on their next possession. Oakland got a stop after that, but Corey Moore intercepted Cook.

Oakland cornerback David Amerson believes things would have been different if not for the team's injuries.

"I've got all the faith in Connor or Matt — any backups we've got," he said. "But they know, at full strength, ain't nobody in the league touching us, man. We're going to take this loss on the chin, and we're going to come back, for sure."