The Las Raiders once again fell apart in the final seconds of the fourth quarter in Week 16. However, tight end Darren Waller still played at a high level.
The Raiders got a superb performance from Darren Waller
The Raiders now stand at 7-8, due to a defensive catastrophe in the final nineteen seconds of their Week 16 matchup against the Miami Dolphins. Nevertheless, tight end Darren Waller did not disappoint. He earned a Pro Bowl designation days prior and made sure that he proved the voters right.
Waller opened up the game with an impressive catch over safety Eric Rowe, another Patriots import. Later in the second quarter, he hauled in 19-yard and nine-yard receptions that resulted in a field goal, giving the Raiders a 13-6 lead before halftime.
Waller had the same impact in the second half
Waller was quiet early in the third quarter. That changed when he broke another contested catch over Rowe for 33 yards on a deep pass. He then followed that one with another reception over his man for 22 yards. ’83’ did not yield a reception in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, he constantly beat his coverage and Carr was either not able to see the tight end open or had his sights on other targets. Regardless, he was a formidable opponent and Rowe was overmatched even when he got help.
Waller finished the day with five receptions on six targets for 112 yards. He was second only to receiver Nelson Agholor who logged 155 yards, largely in part to an impressive 85-yard touchdown. Waller stands at 98 receptions, 1079 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns, leading into the Raiders’ final matchup with the Broncos.
The Raiders are clearly more successful when Waller is a primary target in the passing game. His athleticism, route running, and overall catching ability need to be exploited consistently. Otherwise, it would be a true waste of talent. It could very well end up being a waste of talent if Gruden is not able to unleash ‘D-Wall’ in the playoffs in the upcoming seasons.
Waller has certainly earned Pro Bowl recognition and will finish out the year cementing his status as a top 3 tight end in the NFL.
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Top Photo: Jeff Botari/Associated Press