The AFC and NFC conference championship games are set, but the point spreads for Steelers-Patriots and Packers-Falcons were expected to fluctuate all week leading up to championship Sunday.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio admitted following the game he thought about replacing Cook after halftime, with the Raiders trailing 20-7. The problem is Matt McGloin’s left shoulder was still sore from last week’s injury that knocked him out of the regular season finale against the Broncos. Though Del Rio considered going with McGloin anyway, his coaching staff convinced him to stick with Cook.
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The coaches really felt like there were other things that were kind of contributing, that it wasn’t going to be a big change based on changing the quarterbacks, Del Rio told reporters following Saturday’s loss in Houston. So we stayed the course with it. I know (Cook) got a lot of experience in the last game, the last game-and-a-half. He did some good things, and then he did some things that he can certainly learn from.
Cook, a fourth-round pick from Michigan State, was only starting because of McGloin’s shoulder injury and the fact that starter Derek Carr was out with a broken leg, suffered in Week 16.
The Raiders offense had just 13 yards of offense in the first three series Saturday against the Texans. Cook was 18 of 45 for 161 yards with a touchdown and those three picks. The Raiders had a season-low 203 yards of offense against the NFL’s top-ranked defense.
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The Raiders were also without Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn, and his absence was undoubtedly one of those contributing factors Del Rio mentioned.