The Raiders’ Week 17 contest against the Denver Broncos has no playoff implications on the line. But it does hold stakes that could rewrite the Raiders’ record books for tight end Darren Waller.
While the final weeks of the Raiders’ inaugural season in Las Vegas has come to an abrupt end, tight end Darren Waller is playing to put his name in the team’s record books.
Waller enters the season finale in reach of setting the franchise single-season reception record. Waller, who was just named to the 2021 Pro Bowl, has recorded 98 receptions. Not only has he surpassed more receptions in a single-season than any tight end in Raiders history, but he’s just seven catches shy from breaking Tim Brown’s record of 104 receptions set in 1997.
“He’s (Darren Waller) a great player and he’s played such a major role in so many different positions,” coach Jon Gruden told reporters after the Week 16 game against the Dolphins. “He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen play football.
While needing seven grabs to take the top spot as the Raiders’ single-season reception leader, Waller is averaging 6.5 catches per game this season. He’s hauled in seven or more balls six times this year and has accomplished this feat in three of the last four contests.
Facing a familiar AFC West foe in the Denver Broncos, Waller has already seen them once this season. Dating back to Week 10, the Broncos held Waller to three receptions for 37 yards.
The talented tigth end is certainly Derek Carr’s top receiving option this season, picking up right where they left off in 2019. Waller has now tallied back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons, joining Todd Christensen as the only other tight end in team history to do so.
As the Raiders look to finish the season on a high note, the connection between Carr and Waller will likely see a steady dose of throw and catches, just as they’ve done consistently in recent weeks.
The individual accolades are worth following this week but Waller applauds his teammates for his stellar 2020 campaign.
“It’s definitely cool, it means a lot to break a record,” Waller said on Saturday after joining Christensen in the team’s record books. “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like that before. I appreciate everything that goes into that. The quarterback throwing it, the time he needs to throw it from the offensive line. The receivers running their routes and clearing out areas for me to make a play. So, there’s a lot of people that goes into that.”