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Darren Waller makes mark in Raiders’ record books

Updated December 26, 2020 - 10:41 pm

Raiders tight end Darren Waller doesn’t remember setting any records before Saturday.

He should probably get used to the feeling.

The star pass catcher set the franchise’s all-time record for receptions by a tight end in a season, hauling in five passes to give him 98 and surpassing Todd Christensen’s mark of 95 in 1986.

“It’s definitely cool,” Waller said through the disappointment of another loss. “It means a lot to break a record. I don’t think I’ve ever really done that before. I appreciate everything that goes into that. The quarterback, the time he needs to throw it, the other receivers running their route and clearing out areas.”

The typically humble Waller figures to be far from done in making his mark on the franchise record books.

He finished with 112 yards Saturday to give him 537 in his past four games, the second-most of any tight end since the 1970 merger to Jimmy Graham’s 548 in 2013.

Waller has nine games with more than 100 yards receiving since the start of 2019, the most in the NFL by a tight end over that span.

He joins Christensen as the only tight ends in Raiders history to have at least 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons and stands alone as the only one to have at least 90 catches in each of those seasons.

“He’s a great player,” coach Jon Gruden said. “He plays such a major role in so many different positions. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever seen play football.”

Limited touches

Running back Josh Jacobs had just 13 carries and didn’t catch a pass on two targets.

The former first-round pick out of Alabama managed to rack up 69 yards but was late to join his teammates on the sideline after halftime.

Gruden said Jacobs wasn’t feeling 100 percent.

“He had an IV,” Gruden said. “He wasn’t feeling real good coming in here tonight. And they’re a hard team to run against.”

Jacobs has averaged 55.2 yards rushing in his past five games and has not reached 100 yards since a Nov. 15 win over Denver.

Slow starts continue

The Raiders failed to score on their first possession for the fifth straight game, going three-and-out to start the game.

It started with a four-and-out on the first series against the Falcons.

The Raiders picked up two first downs against the Jets before an interception halted the drive.

Indianapolis, the Chargers and now the Dolphins have forced three-and-outs on the Raiders’ first offensive drive.

The Raiders are 1-4 during that span.

Breaking through

The Raiders matched a season-high with three sacks in interim defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s second game on the job.

Jonathan Hankins, Carl Nassib and Kendal Vickers got to the quarterback. It was just the second time in the last five games the Raiders recorded multiple sacks, matching the three they had against the Jets.

The Raiders dropped to 6-2 since Gruden’s return when recording at least three sacks.

Third-down struggles

Las Vegas failed to convert on any of its 10 third-down opportunities.

It’s the first time since Sept. 24, 2017, when the Raiders went 0-for-11 in a 27-10 loss to the Redskins.

It was an uncharacteristic performance for a team that entered the game second in the NFL on third downs at 49.1 percent.

Early impact

Former UNLV standout Javin White recorded his first NFL tackle-for-loss on the Dolphins’ second play from scrimmage.

White, who has spent most of the season on the practice squad and appeared on one defensive snap before Saturday, shot through and brought down Miami running back Salvon Ahmed for a loss of 4 yards.

It was the fourth time White has been active for a game, though he has played almost exclusively on special teams.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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