The 18-game NFL regular season sees another record fall. In the Dolphins’ first drive of today’s game against the Patriots, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa found his favorite target, receiver Jaylen Waddle, three times, pushing Waddle’s rookie-season total receptions to 102 and cementing that Waddle would end the day with an NFL record.
Waddle finished the game with 5 catches for only 27 yards, but those first three catches resulted in Waddle passing Anquan Boldin for most receptions in a single season for a rookie in NFL history. Boldin’s record of 101 receptions has stood since 2003. Waddle came into the game with 99 catches, so his 5 today make the new mark to beat 104.
Like most records this season, this will have a bit of an asterisk on it, since the record was reached in an 18-week season, as opposed to a 17-week season. While Waddle did technically catch more balls in the same amount of games as Boldin, Waddle did have the benefit of a week of rest outside the traditional bye week when he missed their Week 15 game against the Jets on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Waddle was joined today by T.J. Watt who tied Michael Strahan’s record for most sacks in a single season with 22.5. While Watt also had the luxury of being able to miss a game and still play the same amount of games that Strahan did back in 2001, Watt actually accomplished his total while only appearing in 15 games this year. This is sure to be a continuing trend in the coming years as players are given an additional opportunity to pad their stats.