After waffling a bit following the Bears' 21-10 shellacking by Kansas City, Coach Mike Ditka said yesterday that quarterback Mike Tomczak will start Chicago's first-round playoff game. Ditka had suggested that he might go with rookie Peter Tom Willis after Saturday's game, during which Tomczak completed five of 23 passes for 85 yards.

"He's going to do great, and I'm going to support him just like his teammates," Ditka said. "All he's got to do is his job. . . . I don't want him to go into the game and put any pressure on himself, to feel he has to make spectacular plays."


Rod Rust, his disastrous first season as coach of the New England Patriots behind him, is expected to meet late this week with Sam Jankovich, the team's new chief executive officer, who has said he will decide soon whether to keep Rust.

Rust refused to say if he wants to return for the second year of his four-year contract. "I don't think I'm obligated to respond to that," he said. "I'm not saying that I don't want to come back. I have a scheduled meeting with the new CEO, and that's that."


Falcons Coach Jerry Glanville couldn't resist tossing a few zingers in one day after the Falcons put a damper on the Cowboys' playoff hopes with a 26-7 victory.

"I got a lot of phone calls from coaches around the league today," said Glanville. "The first guy to call me was {Philadelphia Coach} Buddy Ryan. "I don't think he likes Dallas. He said our victory made his day. He didn't talk much about the game, but he did mention that their coach {Jimmy Johnson} looked chalky white."


Browns rookie Leroy Hoard yesterday spent the first day of a three-day sentence for speeding in the city jail of suburban Middleburg Heights, Ohio.

Middleburg Heights Mayor Gary Starr said he gave Hoard jail time because Hoard had been caught speeding three times in six months -- twice in Middleburg Heights and once in nearby Berea, where the Browns practice. One of the violations was for going 110 mph.


Defensive end Tony Woods had major knee surgery yesterday. He was the ninth Seahawks defender to have a serious injury this season when he tore cartilage and ligaments in his right knee in the second quarter of Sunday's 30-10 season-ending victory over Detroit in the Kingdome.