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Darren Waller dedicates monster performance to memory of former teammate and friend

No doubt, that's a tough way to lose a game.

The Las Vegas Raiders dropped their third loss in the past four games Thursday Night in a rollercoaster at Allegiant Stadium. After scoring a field goal with less than four minutes to go in the OT, the Raiders watched as Justin Herbert drove the ball down the field to finish the game with a game-winning touchdown, sending the Chargers to a dramatic 30-27 win.

Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller was his usual spectacular self, casually putting up 150 yards and a touchdown on nine catches against the Chargers defense, leading all receivers in the game. Based on his dominant performance, one may not have known that Waller was dealing with more than the on-field adversity of playing with a backup quarterback. But he was.

Following the game, Waller revealed that he was mourning the loss of his former Baltimore Ravens teammate and close friend Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Taliaferro, 28, passed away Wednesday night, less than 24 hours before kickoff.

"To be real, I didn't even feel like playing tonight honestly," Waller said. "I had no juice today. I thank God and the people that support me for speaking life into me today, and telling me to go out and play and represent him and to have him on my mind while I was playing."

"I feel like him and his presence and what his time on the earth meant to me is what motivating me to play football with a sense of urgency."

Waller has two games left in the season to continue to play great football. No. 83 has 817 receiving yards, 84 catches and seven touchdowns, leading all Raiders receivers in those categories. He also currently has the second most Pro Bowl votes for tight ends this season, only behind Travis Kelce.

"Darren is a tough matchup on anybody," said quarterback Marcus Mariota. "He found ways to get open, he made plays for us and when you get that guy the ball, he's going to do some good things."

Mariota found Waller early and often after starting quarterback Derek Carr suffered a groin injury on the Raiders' second offensive drive of the game.

"It's tough to see Derek go out, number one," said Waller. "I feel that Marcus played great – the way Marcus comes to practice everyday with a has a good attitude and plays hard. I feel that there's no surprise to see him play the way he did tonight."

It's hard to imagine the depth of emotion Waller played with tonight, but one thing is for certain:

Lorenzo would be proud.

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