HOUSTON – Tony Romo and Matt Schaub waited three seasons to become starting quarterbacks in the NFL, and that's about the only thing their career paths have in common.
Romo catapulted from Eastern Illinois to one of the most scrutinized positions in any sport. Yeah, he's put up good numbers in seven-plus seasons, but he may be known as much for his female companions — Jessica Simpson and Carrie Underwood among them — as he is for anything he's accomplished in football.
Schaub was a record-setting quarterback at Virginia, backed up Michael Vick in Atlanta, married a Falcons cheerleader and is just now getting recognition as one of the game's elite quarterbacks.
Romo and the struggling Cowboys (0-2) visit Schaub and the surging Texans (2-0) on Sunday, a seemingly perfect chance for Houston's quarterback to grab some of the spotlight usually reserved for the other guy.
Schaub doesn't see it that way.
"I don't think about it," Schaub said. "That's for other people to talk about. I'm just trying to get our team better and win more games and get in the postseason. We fell short of that goal last season, and really, the bottom line, that's all that matters."
While Schaub quietly goes about his business and carefully chooses every word he offers to the media, Romo says he's had to develop a thick skin to cope with the never-ending spotlight that comes with leading the Cowboys.
"If you let what people say affect your emotional level, then you are in for a really long life, a life of solitude really," he said. "You can't allow what media or opinions of others derail what you are trying to accomplish.
"If every time you failed or every time somebody said something negative about you, you went and hid in the corner, then you would never be in this position. So you keep grinding, you keep getting better and you pick yourself back up and you go."
Romo was criticized early in his career for faltering in big games. Last season, he ranked third in the league in yards passing (4,483), seventh in completions (347), 10th in touchdown passes (26) and 12th in completion percentage.
Most important, Romo led the Cowboys to their first postseason victory since 1996.
Schaub put up better numbers than Romo in 2009. He led the NFL in yards passing (4,770) and completions (396), ranked fourth in completion percentage (67.9) and fifth in touchdown passes (29).
But the Texans finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Romo said Schaub needs to lead Houston into the postseason — and win — before he'll get the recognition he deserves.
"You're judged off that," Romo said. "He has all the other stuff. Now, it's just a matter of going out there and stacking a couple of playoff games together and doing good things. He's got everything else. He's a great quarterback and he's doing really good."
Schaub started this season with wins over the teams led by Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb, completing 38 of 52 passes for 497 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 30-27 win over Washington.
All-Pro receiver Andre Johnson was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week after catching 12 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. He thought Schaub deserved the honor, and thinks his quarterback gets overlooked because he plays in the same division as Manning.
This week's game will draw plenty of attention and could serve as a virtual coming-out party for the Texans, who are going for their first 3-0 start. Johnson thinks Schaub could end up being the star of the show, whether he likes it or not.
"People will be watching," Johnson said. "People are now trying to see what the Houston Texans are all about. And when you watch football teams, the first person they look at is the quarterback, and look at how the quarterback is playing.
"Once we get this thing headed in the right direction, which we have so far, I think he'll get mentioned more and more," Johnson said. "We just have to win more games."