Darren Waller's career day helps propel the Raiders to victory against the Jets

It may have been Sunday, but Wall Street was open nonetheless and Darren Waller's stock was surging.

Prior to the Las Vegas Raiders' Week 13 matchup against the New York Jets, Waller was already one of the best tight ends in football, but at MetLife Stadium, he firmly established himself as a top dog in the league.

"He's special," Head Coach Jon Gruden said following the Raiders' 31-28 win. "If you look where he caught passes — he caught them at wide receiver playing split end, he caught them as a flanker, he caught them in the slot, he caught them everywhere. He ran all kinds of routes and a lot of guys can't even dream of doing what Darren Waller can do, and I think he solidified himself today as clearly one of the top Pro Bowl tight ends in this league."

A season ago, Waller was snubbed from the Pro Bowl, but he's on pace to earn his first selection with the way he's played through 12 games. Waller has totaled 741 receiving yards and trails only Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in receiving yards, and he's currently tied for the lead in touchdowns among all tight ends with seven.

Despite his individual success, Waller's goal is to go out daily and do whatever's necessary to help his team win, and if that means catching 13 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets then so be it.

"I would say it's easily the best game I've had statistically," Waller told reporters postgame. "As far as consistency, I feel like I just try to live one day at a time and make one play at a time, and then stuff like that adds up. It's just about showing up and being consistent as possible every each and every play, and the results can take care of themselves. But as long as I'm locked in and focused, and doing what I need to do to be of service to my teammates, that's what I'm trying to do."

Waller's success over the last year-and-a-half has stemmed from his consistency and it's led to a lot of trust from his starting quarterback, Derek Carr. Every week, Carr looks to Waller as his go-to target, knowing the athletic tight end can come up with just about any catch, but it's his personality and work ethic that No. 4 admires most. 

"We know how special he is," Carr said. "He's even more special of a person and I think that's why I love playing with him so much. I love throwing him the ball. I love competing with him, taking the field with him every time because I look in his eyes and I know he's ready. He and I have similar mindsets and I like that. He's a fun guy to compete with — obviously, he had a huge day, 200 yards as a tight end on 13 catches, that's just ridiculous."

Waller torched Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' unit on multiple occasions and took advantage of their man-to-man coverage. Coming into the game, Waller didn't set a statistical goal for himself, but he knew it was a matchup he could capitalize on.

"There was a lot of man-to-man coverage out there, and any time it's man-to-man, we like man-to-man," Waller told reporters postgame. "I go out with the mindset that I'm trying to win every single matchup every time I step out there, so we got looks that we liked and we had a lot of stuff dialed up for it, and we just tried to execute like we did in practice."

The Silver and Black needed to win on Sunday and thanks to Waller's massive contribution they were able to do so. With their postseason hopes still alive, Waller and the Raiders will welcome the Indianapolis Colts to Allegiant Stadium next week.

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