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Without Derek Carr, Raiders no match for Texans

Houston Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) chases Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook (8) during the second half Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

KRISTIE RIEKEN,

HOUSTON — Oakland’s first trip to the playoffs in 14 seasons was short-circuited in great part because of injuries that wrecked its once-prolific offense.

Rookie third-string quarterback Connor Cook was no match for the Houston Texans in a 27-14 loss in a wild-card playoff game Saturday.

“We got off to such a great start, winning 12 games isn’t easy to do,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “Just came to an abrupt end. The last two weeks we were weren’t able to do enough as a team to carry on and continue.”

“I had high expectations for myself, and to come in and play like that, it’s not a good feeling,” Cook said. “It’s a learning experience.”

Defensive end Khalil Mack talked about how difficult it was to play without Carr.

“When you lose an MVP, it takes a toll,” Mack said. “We wanted to rally and focus back in, but you could tell it was a big hit for us.”

Carr threw for 3,937 yards with 28 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season before his leg was broken on a sack in a win over Indianapolis on Christmas Eve. Matt McGloin started last week, but he went down with a shoulder injury in a loss to Denver last week to force Cook into action after not playing all season.

Del Rio said he asked his staff at halftime if they should bring McGloin in for the second half.

“The coaches really felt that there were other things that were kind of contributing, and that there wasn’t going to be a big change based on changing the quarterback, so we stayed the course with it,” Del Rio said. “He did some good things, and then he did some things he’ll certainly learn from.”

Mack was disappointed that they couldn’t do more to help their young quarterback succeed on Saturday.

“We should have stepped up defensively, and carried this team, but we couldn’t do it,” he said. “We weren’t able to help our offense, and that’s my fault. I’ll take the blame for that.”

Del Rio hopes his team can build on what happened this year and be better next season.

“You go forward, you believe and you teach and you grow and you continue to add and you grow stronger, and you know what you want it to look like and you keep pushing for it,” he said. “Do you end up having some growing pains? Typically, I would say probably, yes. But does that mean I’m going to sit here and feel good about it? No.”