They weren’t perfect. Old issues emerged, like shaky plays in the passing game and terrible play calls on offense.
And yet the Texans turned in their most impressive effort of the year, beating Oakland 27-14 to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs. It was basically the Texans blueprint all year long; play dominant defense, conservative offense and try not to turn the ball over. It worked to a T, and the end result was a playoff victory, just the third in Texans history.
Their next likely opponent is New England, unless Miami is able to beat Pittsburgh tomorrow. Then the Texans would play Kansas City.
Make no mistake, the Texans got a lot of help from a rookie quarterback in Connor Cook. He missed open receivers, held the ball too long and made several mistakes. The Raiders receivers could not hold on to the ball when he did make good throws. He did not complete his 10th pass until the fourth quarter. Cook finished 18 of 45 for 161 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions, the only three turnovers of the game. Most of his yards came in garbage time.
The Texans defense was dominant again. Jadeveon Clowney was incredible, getting an interception on an amazing individual play and constantly pressuring Cook. Whitney Mercilus was an absolute beast with two sacks. The defense never really gave the Raiders a chance.
Offensively, the Texans did just enough. Brock Osweiler was not very good, but he did not turn the ball over and made enough plays to generate points. And that was the difference. Osweiler was 14 of 25 for 168 yards, one TD and a QB rating of 90.1. He also ran for a touchdown. But most importantly, he did not turn the ball over. They leaned heavily on Lamar Miller, who carried 31 times for only 73 yards and a touchdown. As a team, they rushed 43 times. It was what they needed to do to win the game.
In the second half, the coaches actually called a smart offensive game. They ran the ball, eating as much clock as possible, putting it on Cook and the Raiders offense to make something happen. The defense sat back and dared the Raiders offense to beat them.
The end result? The Texans, a team with a historically bad playoff offense, are still alive. It’s hard to imagine they can get past New England or Kansas City in the next round, but at least they earned the chance. No, it wasn’t perfect. Or even pretty.
But it was their most impressive one yet.