The Oakland Raiders traveled to Houston, starting the NFL playoffs against the Houston Texans. Three weeks ago almost everyone thought this game would feature the Kansas City Chiefs visiting the Texans. Then football happened, with Raider quarterback Derek Carr breaking his leg, essentially ending the Raiders chance at winning Super Bowl LI (also being hosted in Houston this year).

Instead, third string quarterback Conner Cook made his first start as a professional quarterback for the Raiders, facing the number one defense in the league. Cook played his college ball at Michigan State, where he is the winningest quarterback in the school’s history.

With Carr at quarterback, the Raiders were, by most predictions, headed for a showdown with the New England Patriots (with Cook, expectations are drastically lower).

Boring beginning

Houston’s opening drive was like waiting for a NASCAR wreck that you knew was coming, with the only question being not if, but when. Texan quarterback Brock Osweiler was by far this year’s worst free agent signing in all of football. Instead of crashing, Osweiler looked hot and cold, while moving the Texans just 35 yards down field before having to punt.

The Cook-led Raiders started their first drive on their own seven yard line with Latavius Murray gaining one yard on a running play. Cook’s first pass was batted down by the Texans' Jadeveon Clowney.

All-Pro Raider receiver Amari Cooper caught Cook’s next pass on third down for a one yard gain. Houston then punted for a mere 30 yards, and mercifully, the game went to a commercial.

Clowney and Cook connect, Osweiler led at half

Cook’s second completion and first interception went to the Texans' Clowney on a screen pass, of all things.

Lamar Miller scored on a five yard run, giving the Texans a 10-0 lead. With a little over one minute left in the first half, Osweiler threw a four yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, giving the Texans a 20-7 Halftime lead. Neither of the young quarterbacks starred or flopped during the first half of this game, and sometimes that is all you can hope for.

The NFL normally provides exciting games when it comes to playoff time, but unless something changes during the second half, that will not be the case this year. Osweiler clearly got the best of Cook in the battle of young quarterbacks in the first half, but had the Texans played any other playoff team, I think things would have been much different.

Houston wins 27-14

This game was nothing special. Houston fans, good for you, your team did what it needed to do to win. The Texans took care of the ball, and they took care of Osweiler by not putting him in a situation where he had to come up big. For you Raiders fans, this game had to be painful. The Raiders won 12 games this season, eleven of them by scoring at least 27 points (including a 27-20 win over the Texans), but not in this game.