HOUSTON (USA TODAY) - Under siege for failing to live up to the expectations that came with his massive contract, Brock Osweiler delivered for the Houston Texans.
In Saturday’s 27-14 victory against the Oakland Raiders in the wild card round of the playoffs, Osweiler managed the game and avoided the big mistake. That was enough for Texans coach Bill O’Brien to announce that Osweiler would start next week’s game in the divisional round.
“I thought he had a good game,” O’Brien said in his press conference. “He took care of the ball. He executed the game plan. Basically he spread the ball around. I’m not sure how many different receivers caught passes, but it looked pretty good to me.”
Osweiler completed 14 of 25 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown Saturday in his first start since being benched in the middle of a Week 15 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also added 15 rushing yards and one score on six carries.
Why did the Raiders keep Matt McGloin on the bench?
Houston had turned to backup Tom Savage in that Jaguars game, and started him the following two weeks before he sustained a concussion against the Tennessee Titans in the season finale. The injury forced him to the inactive list Saturday, and Brandon Weeden served as Osweiler’s backup.
“I thought he did a good job,” Texans owner Robert McNair told reporters after the game. “He protected the ball. He moved the team when we really needed it. I thought he did a good job. He made some runs himself, so that was good. That’s really what we want him to do: protect the ball and make a few plays and get some third downs. He was able to do that.”
Osweiler signed a four-year, $72 million contract this offseason that pays him $37 million guaranteed over the first two seasons. Accuracy and turnover issues throughout the regular season, however, frustrated fans and led to many calling for Savage to replace him.
Osweiler threw for 2,957 yards, 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions on a 59 % completion rate during the regular season, but when it comes to the playoffs, the Texans are riding the hot hand.
“It means a lot,” Osweiler said after the game. “But more importantly, it means a lot to this football team. When we all came together in April, for (organized team activities), when we all came together again in July for training camp, this is what we all had envisioned. We envisioned a great season. We envisioned an AFC South championship, and we envisioned making some noise in the playoffs. This is exactly what we expected out of this football team and to be able to get the job done today means a lot.”
If the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Miami Dolphins Sunday, Houston will travel to face the AFC’s top seeded New England Patriots, but if Miami pulls off the upset, the Texans will head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs.