Texans defense dominate injury-plagued Raiders

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The Houston Texans pestered Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook with constant pressure en route to a 27-14 victory at NRG Stadium on Saturday.

Doing most of the damage for the Texans in the wildcard round were defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus.

Clowney only registered one tackle, but was constantly in the backfield and knocked down a pair of passes.

Mercilus added seven tackles, three for loss, with two sacks and two quarterback hits.

Cook finished the game with 161 yards on the back of 18 of 45 completed passes, one for a touchdown.

 

CLOWNING AROUND

Clowney's acrobatic first-quarter interception led to the game's first touchdown. 

ROOKIE STRUGGLES

Cook was the first rookie quarterback to make his first NFL start in the playoffs. He was only playing because of injuries to starter Derek Carr and backup Matt McGloin and struggled mightily.

Not helping matters was that Oakland (12-5) were without Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn because of a knee injury. Clowney feasted against backup Menelik Watson while Mercilus had his way with right tackle Austin Howard. 

While Cook struggled, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler was efficient. He never looked spectacular, going 14 of 25 for 168 yards, but managed things at the line and did not turn the ball over while tossing a touchdown and running for another. 

 

MOVING ON

The Texans (10-7) advance to next week's AFC divisional round at either New England or Kansas City. Should the Miami Dolphins beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, the Texans would play the Chiefs, who eliminated them last year with a 31-0 victory in the opening round. A Steelers win over visiting Miami would send the Texans to Foxborough to play the top-seeded Patriots and the NFL's top-ranked scoring defense. 

The Texans defense looked great at home against a rookie making his first start. It would be a completely different story at Gillette Stadium against Tom Brady and the Patriots.