Clutch Performers

Johnny Manziel rediscovers magic in exhilarating Browns win

The Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning, Oakland Raiders' Derek Carr, Cleveland Browns' Johnny Manziel, Jacksonville Jaguars' Jason Myers and Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones each had the strength to come through during a key moment and contribute to wins during Week 2.

Thanks to those strong performances, each player is up for Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Week honors. This is a deeper look at the significance of those conquests.

Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns

Strong stats to consider:
» The Browns won their third home opener since returning from their hiatus in 1999.
» The Browns scored 14 points in the first quarter, the most by the team in that quarter since Week 5 of 2012.
» Since 1991, this game was only the fourth of 338 games in which the Browns led by 21 or more points at halftime. It was the first time since Week 17 of the 1994 season, when the Browns led the Seattle Seahawks, 21-0, at halftime.

Power of the moment: Cleveland is nearly two decades and 23 starting quarterbacks into its quest to find a franchise quarterback. The team spent a first-round pick on Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft in hopes that he would be the answer. Based on his 2014 season, the answer was an emphatic "no." However, a stint in rehab and a refocused ambition on the game of football has aroused hope that Manziel might still develop into at least a serviceable starting quarterback in the NFL.

It remains uncertain if Josh McCown -- the Browns' starting quarterback to enter the season -- will return to that post once he has cleared the league's concussion protocol, but Cleveland coach Mike Pettine has a conunudrum on his hands. Manziel's dramatic performance in a 28-14 win over the Titans sure seems to validate the idea of providing Johnny Football an opportunity to develop into a genuine starting quarterback. It might be wise for the team to get a good look at the young player they already have at the position before embarking on another draft in search of its next franchise quarterback.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Strong stats to consider:
» This is the third consecutive 2-0 start to a season for the Broncos.
» The Broncos have won seven consecutive games against the Kansas City Chiefs. All seven wins came since Manning joined the team.
» The Broncos have won 13 consecutive divisional road games, the longest road divisional win streak in NFL history. The last road divisional loss came in 2010.

Power of the moment: Manning orchestrated a dramatic about-face to capture that record-setting 13th consecutive road win against a divisional opponent. Chiefs running back Knile Davis had put his team ahead 24-17 with 2:27 remaining, but Manning led a 10-play, 80-yard drive that finished with a game-tying touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders with 36 seconds left to play. A stunning fumble recovery for a touchdown moments later gave the Broncos a sudden win. It also helped ease the tension on Manning, who had a uncharacteristic start to the season up to the point of the tying drive.

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Strong stats to consider:
» The top four quarterbacks selected in the 2014 NFL Draft all won in Week 2 (the others: Manziel, Blake Bortles of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Teddy Bridgewater of the Minnesota Vikings).
» The 37 points scored by the Raiders is the most in a game since a 39-23 win over the Denver Broncos during Week 15 of the 2010 season. The starting quarterbacks that day were Jason Campbell for the Raiders and Tim Tebow for the Broncos. This was also the last time the Broncos lost a road divisional game.

Power of the moment: Carr helped back up some of the offseason optimisism in Oakland surrounding the team's young quarterback and the team's first choice in the 2015 NFL Draft, wide receiver Amari Cooper. In the first quarter, Carr and Cooper struck for the duo's first big play in what Raiders fans hope will be many more ... a 68-yard scoring strike that put the Raiders up 7-0 on the Ravens. It was the first of three touchdown passes for Carr -- who had a career high in passing yards in the win. The final scoring strike, provided the winning tally in an inspiring Raiders win against a popular choice among pundits to contend for the playoffs and possibly represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50.

Jason Myers, Jacksonville Jaguars

Strong stats to consider:
» The Jaguars broke a 10-game losing streak in games played during the month of September.
» This was the Jaguars' first home win over the Dolphins since a 62-7 dump trucking of Miami in the 1999 AFC divisional playoffs. The Dolphins had won the previous three games in Jacksonville.

Power of the moment: On Jan. 15, 2000, the Jaguars tore through the Dolphins in an epic AFC divisional playoff beatdown. That was the Jaguars at the peak of their power, a status the franchise is attempting to revisit. The Jaguars hadn't beaten their in-state nemesis at home since then, but Myers' kick broke a stalemate Sunday and reversed that trend. The Dolphins, meanwhile, must be kicking themselves over the missed opportunity to open the season 2-0.

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

Strong stats to consider: (2-3 research notes)
» This is the Falcons' first 2-0 start since 2012, when Atlanta opened the season 8-0 and finished 13-3.
» This is also the third 2-0 start with Matt Ryan as the team's quarterback (2009, 9-7 record, missed playoffs; 2012, 13-3, lost in NFC Championship).

Power of the moment: Jones' catch that set up the game-winning touchdown run for Devonta Freeman assured that first-year coach Dan Quinn would become just the second coach in Falcons history to open 2-0. The other? Current UCLA coach Jim Mora, who started 2-0, finished 11-5 and made the playoffs in 2004.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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