The AFC Wild Card game between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans was billed as a battle of quarterback ineptitude. And unwatchable. It was neither.
The game was actually quite entertaining and one of the signal callers was pretty decent.
Sure, Connor Cook looked like a rookie making his first career start after not suiting up for 15 games and coming in for mop-up duty in the other. To be fair, none of his Raider offensive teammates seemed too interested in making a play for him anyway. The Texans No. 1-ranked defense feasted on his inexperience, especially Jadeveon Clowney, who set up a short touchdown with an acrobatic interception.
But the other quarterback, Brock Osweiler, was good. He looked like a player worthy of a fresh $72 million contract, going 14-for-25 with 168 yards and two total touchdowns. While he was primarily a game manager, there’s no shame in being a game manager in the playoffs, when the only thing that matters is winning.
Osweiler needed to avoid the big mistake and he did. He flirted with a turnover by dropping a snap deep in his own territory, but was able to corral it quickly to avert disaster. He went above and beyond the call of duty by proactively accounting for points.
With the Texans clinging to a 13-7 lead before halftime, Osweiler dropped a dime into DeAndre Hopkins’ hands for a 38-yard gain before connecting with Hopkins again on a two-yard touchdown that proved to the the game-winner. He added a one-yard scamper in the fourth to put the exclamation point on a 27-14 win and date with New England next Saturday.
Osweiler’s wasn’t a transcendent performance. It wasn’t great. It was good, and enough for today. The difference between he and Cook, perhaps the least prepared quarterback to ever take a postseason snap, couldn’t have been more glaring.
It was a low bar to clear but Osweiler didn’t scrape it.