OAK-HOU grades: Clowney, Bouye earn top marks in Texans' Wild Card win
Houston Texans 27, Oakland Raiders 14
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Texans’ AFC Wild Card victory over the Raiders.
Quarterback grade: Brock Osweiler, 75.0
Osweiler does enough to lead Texans to victory
Entering this game, the plan was clear—do not give it away. And in that regard, this was mission accomplished by Osweiler. Was it a good enough effort to scare better teams? Certainly not. There was a nice throw down the sideline to DeAndre Hopkins that set up a favorable situation, but outside of that, this was an effort more about the throws Osweiler didn’t make (interceptions). Even then, luck played a factor, with Oakland’s Malcolm Smith dropping a pass that should never have been made. In this game between two questionable starting QBs, Osweiler was the better player.
Top offensive grades:
WR DeAndre Hopkins, 81.0
QB Brock Osweiler, 75.0
LT Duane Brown, 71.0
LG Xavier Su’a-Filo, 71.6
RG Jeff Allen, 69.3
Offense sputters, but takes advantage of field position
The grades tell the story of a team that may have got the ball into the end zone on three occasions, but needed help to do so. Averaging just 2.8 yards per carry and with just 168 yards through the air, the Texans couldn’t win up front and were reliant on yellow flags to move the chains all too frequently. This wasn’t a performance that should scare anybody.
Top defensive grades:
OLB Jadeveon Clowney, 86.9
CB A.J. Bouye, 86.8
CB Robert Nelson, 86.3
LB Brian Cushing, 84.8
LB Benardrick McKinney, 82.4
Texans’ defense overwhelms Oakland to ensure victory
The Texans took away the Raiders’ ground game, with Vince Wilfork turning in one of his best games in run defense this season. By making the Raiders one-dimensional, Houston unleashed Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus for favorable matchups off the edge. Clowney recorded four QB pressures (all hurries), as well as a game-high two batted passes. With CB A.J. Bouye literally shutting things down on the edge (zero catches allowed on seven targets) and Robert Nelson playing a superb game in relief of Kareem Jackson, the splash plays by Clowney and Mercilus as pass-rushers were more than enough to see the Texans past an ailing Raiders’ offense.
Quarterback grade: Connor Cook, 49.6
Cook pressed into action—and pressured into mistakes
As the first quarterback to start his first career game in the playoffs, expecting rookie Connor Cook to deliver the victory for the Raiders proved to be too much to ask. Cook was pressured on 13 of his 48 dropbacks, but struggled regardless of whether his offensive line held up or not. Under pressure, he completed only two of his 10 pass attempts, along with two of his three interceptions. Without pressure, Cook still completed less than 50 percent of his passes, with just more than 4.0 yards per attempt. His fourth-quarter drive was the high watermark on a tough start, but ultimately, it was too little, too late.
Top offensive grades:
C Rodney Hudson, 80.0
RT Austin Howard, 79.8
WR Andre Holmes, 79.8
LG Kelechi Osemele, 74.8
RG Gabe Jackson, 73.0
Absentees in key spots derail Oakland offense
The loss of Derek Carr two weeks ago was compounded by left tackle Donald Penn being forced to miss the first start of his career due to injury on the eve of Oakland’s first playoff game in more than a decade. The loss of Carr obviously had a huge impact, but the loss of Penn exposed Connor Cook’s blindside. Menelik Watson—who had played seven snaps at left tackle this season, and only 27 more (preseason included) in his entire career—was completely outmatched against Jadeveon Clowney. On the opposite side, right tackle Austin Howard gave up two crucial sacks. Unable to establish the rushing attack, the Raiders were forced to put the game in the hands of their third-string rookie quarterback, and neither Cook nor his wide receivers could step up and make the big plays necessary.
Top defensive grades:
CB Sean Smith, 83.4
OLB Khalil Mack, 83.1
DT Denico Autry, 82.3
LB Perry Riley, 80.4
LB Malcolm Smith, 80.2
Too much asked of defense
With Houston avoiding situations that might lead to turnovers, and the Oakland offense not moving the ball at all, there was simply too much asked of a Raiders defense that can look back and think they did their jobs. Khalil Mack produced the standout effort on defense, with a phenomenal eight defensive stops, but even he wasn’t his usual destructive self when rushing the passer. The nature of the Raiders’ offense meant mistakes could not be afforded, and so the effort of David Amerson was a disappointment. He was flagged twice while being beaten for 89 yards on four catches in the air.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, Texans
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