Week 2 in the NFC East has come and gone for most, but half of the division now faces an alarmingly uncertain future. Left in the wake of two late rallies on Sunday are the injuries to Tony Romo and Michael Vick, both veteran signal-callers charged with the duties of leading their squads to the top of the standings.
With the Dallas Cowboys relying on Romo to take on the team's captaincy and Vick carrying the Eagles' championship hopes on every scramble, the question now arises: Which injury will mean more to their respective teams as they try to establish legitimacy early in 2011?
After a gutsy performance in San Francisco, the Cowboys offense left the field with the season's first win etched into the standings. Romo fought through breath-taking pain caused by a broken rib and a punctured lung throughout much of the afternoon, dragging a wounded Dallas side to a thrilling victory over the 49ers.
But as the team retreated to the locker room after Dan Bailey's short field goal in overtime, they were followed by questions about the health of the entire unit, none more concerning than those about their leader.
The Cowboys now face the reality of a serious injury to their quarterback and what it could mean to their early-season contention. An early bye week will give Dallas a chance to heal, but not before they play host to surprising division leader Washington and an energetic Lions team.
Should Romo be unavailable, can the team stabilize and hold their season together until he returns? Fortunately for the Cowboys, the injury did not prevent the Cowboys from getting the win Sunday, something that can't be said for a division rival.
Just hours after Romo's injury, the Philadelphia Eagles seemed destined for a convincing win over the Falcons in Atlanta before disaster struck. Vick seemed poised to take the offense in for a 31-21 lead in the fourth quarter before he was dragged down and spun right into the body of offensive lineman Todd Herremans.
In the locker room with a concussion and neck injuries, No. 7 could only watch as the Eagles suffered their first loss of the young season.
Vick did struggle at times during his return to the city he left behind after serving prison time for federal dog fighting charges, but his dynamic play would have been the difference following a second-half scoring run. Young backup Mike Kafka was consistent enough to nearly lead the Eagles on one final drive to win the game, but Philadelphia fell to 1-1 despite his best efforts.
Concussions have become a challenge to return from in the NFL because of new guidelines surrounding a player's return to a very physical sport. There is a chance that Vick may not get back on the field through this week, a situation that would force the Eagles to rely on either Vince Young of Kafka at the helm.
So which team's starting quarterback is more important to early season success? There are a number of factors that will have an effect on whether each team can triumph in the coming weeks. With their leaders gone, both squads are going to need a complete effort to remain afloat in the early season.