The Las Vegas Raiders only had one pass catcher prepared to face the New Orleans Saints, but it turned out to be all they needed. Veteran tight end Darren Waller had a field day against the black and gold, catching 12 of the 16 targets thrown his way for 103 receiving yards and a touchdown reception.
He’s just the second player in Raiders history to catch a dozen or more passes in multiple games, along with silver and black legend Tim Brown. That’s not the sort of stat the Saints defense wants to be on the receiving end of.
Here’s another one: everything they tried to slow Waller down failed. New Orleans covered Waller with almost everyone who started on defense over the course of the game, and NFL Next Gen Stats credited him with catches against nine different defenders.
He bullied defensive backs P.J. Williams (3 receptions for 30 yards) and Malcolm Jenkins (2 catches for 25 yards) most prominently, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson was the nearest defender on a blown fourth-and-goal coverage that allowed his touchdown catch. Even defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson were dinged for pass completions in some ill-advised drops into coverage.
So it’s back to the drawing board for Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. He failed to come up with an answer to his opponent’s only real receiving threat, and it cost the Saints big-time. That’s the sort of shortcoming that has plagued the Saints too often in too many winnable games in recent years, as often in the opening weeks of the season as the playoffs.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 22, 2020