TORONTO - As recently as two weeks ago Tony Romo was the biggest dope in pro football.
He had flat-out lost the Dallas Cowboys a game against the New York Jets in which they were in control of — and every aspect of his game was being questioned.
Today he's getting the Dirk Nowitzki treatment. Listen hard enough and you would swear he walks on water.
Such is the fickle nature of the sports fan in general and very likely to a larger degree in sports-crazy Dallas.
Yes, Romo played through a rib injury and possibly a punctured lung a week ago in an overtime win over San Francisco.
Monday night, wearing a flak jacket normally reserved for his nation's military men, Romo went out and engineered enough offence to help Dallas squeak by Washington.
This isn't to downplay Romo's courage and commitment to team which are both considerable — but to point out that Romo was far from the only Cowboy out there Monday night playing hurt.
Running back Felix Jones was playing with a dislocated shoulder and unlike Romo who had an offensive line (on most snaps) out there to keep would-be tacklers off him, Jones was running at his would-be tacklers when he couldn't go around them.
Jason Witten had a rib injury of his own that also warranted a flak jacket, although it became cumbersome and he went without it for the second half.
Phil Costa, the second-year centre who took plenty of heat for his ill-timed snaps (more on that later) wasn't even supposed to play in the game. But like Romo he wrapped up his injury and played through.
Romo, as the team's leader, sets the tone and for that we give him huge props.
But just because he plays the quarterback position, his acts of courage get so much more attention. It might be the way it is in the world of sports, but it doesn't mean it's right.
So let's all cease and desist with the why it's OK to love Romo columns again and at least give some of the lower-profile Cowboys playing through injury their equal due.
ROMO THE LEADER
What we can get behind is how Romo took charge of a Cowboys team that seemed bent and determined to lose on Monday night.
Romo knows he is surrounded by young talent that got even younger with injuries, but he also is well aware the Cowboys dodged a bullet Monday night and must be better than they were against the Redskins.
"This was a great win for us," Romo said after the game. "We had a million mistakes ... we have a lot of young guys, but they were out there for a reason, so we depend on them. We'll get it right. We're lucky to come out of here with a win with as many mistakes as we made."
Romo took steps himself to make sure those mistakes will be learned from. When young receiver Kevin Ogletree stopped in the middle of a route, one of many blown routes on the night, Romo could be seen screaming at him — "What are you doing?"
According to Ogletree he was also called "stupid" by Romo after he tried to make some sort of explanation.
Centre Costa was publicly and repeatedly ridiculed by Romo who spent a good part of the game chasing his snaps, at least four of which came with Romo still calling an audible and certainly not ready for them.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Costa spent most of the post-game in a room off-limits to the media with his head in his hands.
Word eventually got around that those devious Redskins lineman were simulating Romo's snap count and confusing Costa. Romo didn't initially cut his young centre any slack — but let up a little after the game.
"We've got to get the snap thing worked out," Romo said. "Costa said the D line kept calling the snap count. We'll tell the league. You're not supposed to be able to do that."
If nothing else, Romo has let his young teammates know youth will not be an excuse for poor performance and that should only bode well for the Cowboys in the future.
It would appear the Reggie Bush experiment as an every-down back is over after just three games. Actually it was over after one.
The emergence of rookie Daniel Thomas who came within five yards of his second consecutive 100-yard game on Sunday is a big part of the reason, but so too is Bush's failure to deliver.
Bush is averaging just 2.6 yards a carry while Thomas averages 4.9 yards every time he takes the ball in the backfield.
More importantly than just the numbers, Thomas has caught the eye of head coach Tony Sparano who is latching on to anything productive on his roster like a drowning man clutches a life vest.
Right now Thomas is about the best thing on his roster.
The Cowboys have little time to celebrate their big win. The Detroit Lions are in Dallas Sunday for a 1 p.m. kickoff. The troublesome Cowboys offensive line will have to deal with not only Ndamukong Suh but the return of No. 13 overall draft choice Nick Fairley who has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot ... Arizona running back Beanie Wells, who was a late scratch from Sunday's loss in Seattle, is telling people he is a 100% guarantee to play this weekend ... DeAngelo Williams appears to be losing his starting role to Jonathan Stewart in the Carolina backfield. While Williams still has four more rushing attempts than Stewart, the two split carries evenly last weekend and Stewart's 3.9 yards a carry average is dwarfing the 2.3 Williams is producing ... Green Bay offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga has a sprained and bruised knee, not the suspected ACL tear most Packers fans were fearing when he went down midway through the first quarter in Chicago on Sunday. Bulaga may still miss a game or two but that's far better than the original concern.