It is hard to believe that it has been less than a week since the Cowboys lost to the Jets.
The amount of attention paid to Tony Romo following the fourth quarter of that game has reached the kind of proportions usually reserved for the likes of Casey Anthony. We're still waiting to hear if Congress is going to pass a bill banning Romo from throwing passes in the last five minutes of games and recent polls show that Rick Perry's nascent presidential campaign has taken a serious hit because he shares a state with Romo.
Any outcry is understandable because Romo was a serious mess in that fourth quarter, but that doesn't mean that things haven't been overblown. The Cowboys aren't in position to blow the game if not for three great quarters from Romo and the biggest reason for hope coming into this Cowboys season was that they have a quarterback capable of leading them to victories.
That didn't change in the fourth quarter last Sunday nor is it something to take for granted.
There's no better evidence of that than the guy leading the 49ers this weekend. Alex Smith is in his seventh season as an NFL quarterback after being the first overall pick of the 2005 draft and he's been benched in almost every one of those seasons. That he is still in San Francisco says more about the 49ers' front office than it says about Smith's ability.
The simple truth is that if Smith turned in a fourth quarter like Romo turned in against the Jets, there wouldn't be rage among 49ers fans to rival what we've seen in Dallas this week. There might not be anything more than an exasparated sigh because that's pretty much what you'd expect Smith to do. After all, this is a guy with more interceptions than touchdowns in his career and who has never led a team to a winning season.
Such a quarter wouldn't come at the end of a game that saw Smith shred a good defense for more than 300 yards and two touchdown passes. Smith can't beat good defenses and he can barely handle bad defenses, a pretty sharp contrast to the guy who runs the Cowboys offense.
None of this is meant to absolve Romo of his sins. He needs to be better than he was against the Jets and he needs to stop making the killer mistake that he's made so many other times in his career. That said, Romo is still, on his worst day, a much better quarterback than Alex Smith and at least a dozen other guys starting this weekend.
In a league where the quarterback is king, you have to swallow hard and move on to feeling good about that.