The Houston Texans embark on their playoff game against the Oakland Raiders with the return of a key part of their offense, running back Lamar Miller. If the Texans didn’t have the option to rest Miller’s ailing ankle this team would have had a difficult time moving onto the Divisional Round for the first time since 2012. However, with him back in the lineup, the offense can lean on him to carry them past the Raiders.
Miller has missed the last two contest for the Texans; which has seen the offense sputter into complete disfunction. During his absence the Texans were only able to rush for 141 yards with one touchdown from a running back. While the running game struggled, the team cycled through benching Brock Oswiler for Tom Savage. Only to see the return to the former starter after Savage suffered a concussion.
The return sees Miller come into this game fresh, and rested, and has shot a lighting bolt into this team. “When the coaches told me I’d be resting, it was tough at first just not going to battle with my teammates,” Miller said Tuesday inside the Texans’ training facility. “They were telling me to look at the bigger picture and be ready for the playoffs. I just took that mindset and tried to be prepared when the playoffs come.”
“I think it helped me out a lot,” Miller said. “I feel fresh right now. I feel good. Missing my first two games, it was kind of tough. It was different for me, but I’m happy I’m back and I’m looking forward to helping this team.” (Chron)
According to Football Outsiders advance metrics, the Raiders rank at the bottom half of the league’s rushing defenses during the regular season. This defense was worse than last season’s team that went 7-9, and missed the playoffs. When the two teams met in the regular season Miller rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries with a score.
During that game the Texans did come out on the losing end, dropping the contest 27-20. However, the story from the matchup in Mexico City was more about some of the calls on the field, rather than the play. There was a couple of bad spots that hurt Houston that day. And, then there was the error in the call on a Deandre Hopkins. As the Texans wide receiver was sprinting down the sideline, the referee called him out of bounds negating a touchdown.
This led to a post game press conference where Houston’s head coach said the following, “We got all those cameras and can’t get that right?” (Fox Sports).
With the return of Miller, and the Raiders now on their third-string quarterback, there shouldn’t be any frustration at the post game press conference because of missed calls. The Texans should be able to ride the running game to a double digit victory and into the second round.
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