Brock Osweiler was all smiles after the Texans beat the Oakland Raiders 27-14 Saturday afternoon in an AFC Wild Card playoff round. And he should be. When you sign a 72 million dollar contract you are expected to lead your team to the playoffs with dazzling stats and a swagger that says you are worth every penny of your contract. But the NFL doesn’t always go that way. And Osweiler has been criticized and benched for not performing up to those standards. But Saturday he did better than that. He did what he needed to do, and maybe more importantly he didn’t do what many thought he would do. He didn’t throw an interception.
No doubt the Houston defense was the deciding factor in this game. Oakland was staring Conner Cook, a third string QB who was the first ever QB in the history of the NFL to make his first start in a playoff game. The Houston defense, ranked #1 in the NFL, was expected to keep Oakland in check while waiting on their offense to get a few points when they could. On Oakland’s second possession of the game, deep in Oakland territory, the Houston defense did just that. Houston DE Jadeveon Clowney batted a Cook pass out of the air, tipped it, and then made a interception catch. This was the first of three Oakland turnovers on the day and set up the Houston offense with the ball at the Oakland with an interception setting up the first Houston score, a 4 yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller. Coach Bill O’Brien couldn’t have scripted it any better.
And although most of the game the Houston offense did what it was supposed to do, i.e. not lose the game, the offense did show signs that they were worthy to be in the playoffs. With 2:25 left in the first half the Texans took over on their own 40 yard line. They went 60 yards in four plays for a TD score. A 38 yard pass down the right sideline to WR DeAndre Hopkins and a TD pass also to Hopkins were highlights of the short drive.
Early in the fourth quarter the offense struck again. This time on a 53 yard drive. Key plays were a 19 yard Osweiler pass to WR Will Fuller for 19 yards, and an Oakland pass interference penalty in the end zone set up the Texans first and goal at the one yard line. On second and goal from the one Osweiler scrambled to his right and kept the ball taking it in the end zone for the touchdown.
That was all the scoring the offense would need with the Texan defense in control of the game. The final score was 27-14 Houston. Critics will still say Osweiler isn’t performing like a top tier QB, but the end result of this game is what a exactly what a top tier QB gives you. A win in the playoffs.