Offensive Player Rankings

With Manning struggling, Stewart's timely pick saves Broncos

The Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo, St. Louis Rams' Aaron Donald, Denver Broncos' Darian Stewart, Buffalo Bills' Tyrod Taylor and Miami Dolphins' Jarvis Landry each had the strength to come through during a key moment and contribute to wins during Week 1.

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.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Strong stats to consider:
» Cowboys are 7-0 all-time against the Giants when the teams meet in Week 1.
» At seven seconds left in the game, this was the latest game-winning fourth-quarter touchdown pass in the Cowboys' 56 seasons.
» On the game-winning drive, Romo completed five of six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown.

Power of the moment: Once known for crunch-time gaffes, Romo recently has reversed that trend. Gifted with 1:30 remaining in the game thanks to the New York Giants' clock mismanagement, Romo went to work, thoroughly driving his team into position for the winning score, an 11-yard touchdown strike to veteran tight end Jason Witten. Romo directed the game-winning drive without his top target, Dez Bryant, who left the game with a foot injury.

The Cowboys are an anticipated Super Bowl contender entering this 2015 season, and Sunday night's win solidified a lot of analyst's perceptions of the team's quality. Moving forward, however, Romo and crew will have to maintain a high level of play without the services of Bryant, who is expected to miss at least a month of play.

Aaron Donald, St. Louis Rams

Strong stats to consider:
» Donald had two sacks for his first multi-sack game of his brief career.
» The Seahawks had one 17 of the previous 20 games against the Rams.

Power of the moment: In the long seven months since the New England Patriots thwarted what most watching Super Bowl XLIX thought would be the Seahawks' winning score, the pass-vs.-run debate raged. Presented with another short-yardage situation with the game on the line, the Seahawks chose to run with their bell cow back -- Marshawn Lynch -- and were decisively denied by the Rams. The Seahawks showed the NFL that running into the teeth of one of the best defensive lines in the league might not be the best option.

Darian Stewart, Denver Broncos

Strong stats to consider:
» The Broncos and Ravens combined for zero offensive touchdowns.
» The Ravens' 173 yards of offense was the second fewest for the team under coach John Harbaugh (146 yards vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011).
» Neither team reached the opponent's red zone until less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Power of the moment: In the first game for the Broncos with Peyton Manning behind center without an offensive touchdown, it was the defense that dealt the crushing blows in a 19-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens' most promising offensive drive of the game was also its last. Stewart, a former Ravens player who followed new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak to Denver, halted the Ravens' final surge and helped hammer home the point that the Broncos might have to strongarm its way to another division title on the strength of their defense rather than offense.

Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills

Strong stats to consider:
» Taylor's last start came in the 2011 Orange Bowl for Virginia Tech against Andrew Luck and Stanford.
» Taylor's 123.8 passer rating in his first start is the highest in team history, topping Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly's 119.8 from 1986.
» The Bills' last three wins have come against Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Andrew Luck.

Power of the moment: During the offseason, Taylor was considered a longshot candidate to be the Bills' starting Week 1 quarterback. Instead, on the strength of an impressive preseason showing, Taylor got the starting nod and carried that momentum into the season opener. While new coach Rex Ryan's defense befuddled the much more ballyhooed Andrew Luck, Taylor seized his opportunity. After uncorking a 51-yard touchdown bomb to Percy Harvin to set the tone for the startling triumph, Taylor continued to make plays with his arm and legs to keep the Colts off balance. If this game is any indication that the Bills might have finally solved their long-standing quarterback woes, this team could be a bonafide threat to end its NFL-worst playoff drought.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins

Strong stats to consider:
» Landry is the first player in Dolphins history to produce a game-winning punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter.
» Landry's punt return TD was the Dolphins' first since Marcus Thigpen did so against the Houston Texans in Week 1 of the 2012 season.
» This was the first of 19 games in the 2015 NFL season that will reprise previous Super Bowl matchups (the Dolphins and Redskins, in fact, met twice in the Super Bowl, with the Dolphins winning Super Bowl VII and the Redskins winning Super Bowl XVII).

Power of the moment: Like the aforementioned Bills, the Dolphins are vying to put an end to the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots' reign atop the AFC East. Perhaps the team is trending toward contention. The 17-10 win over the Redskins was the Dolphins' first in Washington since Week 1 of the 1984 season, which is notable because that was the last time the Dolphins advanced to the Super Bowl.

Follow Jim Reineking on Twitter @jimreineking.

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