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Sports briefs: Dec. 27

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo missed most of his team's game Saturday against the Eagles. Philadelphia won 20-7.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo missed most of his team's game Saturday against the Eagles. Philadelphia won 20-7. AP

NFL

Swelling subsiding on Romo's bruised throwing hand

All the negative tests on quarterback Tony Romo's bruised throwing hand are positives for the Dallas Cowboys.

Coach Jason Garrett said Monday that the swelling is going down and that a number of different tests have confirmed the original diagnosis of nothing being broken in Romo's right hand. The Cowboys are hopeful that he can practice Wednesday.

"It looks like it is getting better," Garrett said. "We hope, in the next couple of days, with treatment, he'll be able to take a snap and hold a football and throw it the way he needs to."

When asked whether Romo could grip a football, the coach responded, "He has a relatively firm handshake."

All indications are that Romo will be ready for Sunday night's game at the New York Giants that will determine who wins the NFC East and goes to the playoffs.

"I believe in Tony," safety Abram Elam said. "I know it's going to take a lot to keep him from playing in this game."

The Cowboys (8-7) will be without starting left guard Montrae Holland, who was put on season-ending injured reserve Monday with a partially torn left biceps sustained in the 20-7 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

Dallas has lost three of its past four games since sweeping through its four games in November to take over the division lead. That slide includes a 37-34 loss at home to the Giants on Dec. 11, when New York overcame a 12-point deficit with two touchdowns in the final 3½ minutes.

The rematch determines the NFC East champion, with the loser missing the playoffs at 8-8.

"For us, things have gone our way enough to give us this chance," Garrett said. "You can look back at the successes that we had that maybe we shouldn't have had and maybe some of the disappointments we've had that maybe we shouldn't have had. That's the Giants. That's every team in this league."

Packers might rest starters vs. Lions

Now that the Green Bay Packers have wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, Coach Mike McCarthy is free to rest some of his starters in the regular-season finale.

And while McCarthy's natural inclination might be playing to win — especially with the NFC North rival Detroit Lions coming to Lambeau Field on New Year's Day — he acknowledged after the Packers' 35-21 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night that his team's injury situation might dictate his strategy.

"We'll look at all of our options," McCarthy said. "But I'm not going to stand here and tell you we want to give away opportunities to win the game. We're going to play to win the game next week. I'm not real excited about a division opponent coming in here and think we're not going to do everything we can to get to 15-1. But health is an issue for us. I think that's stating the obvious."

Aaron Rodgers threw five touchdown passes in a game for the first time in his NFL career, breaking a close game wide open by leading three quick scoring drives in the second half Sunday.

The Packers (14-1) nailed down the No. 1 seed in the NFC and claimed another round of bragging rights in the storied rivalry by eliminating the Bears (7-8) from the playoff chase. Chicago's loss also put the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs. Rodgers said he expected McCarthy to weigh the pros and cons of playing to win.

"There's something to be said about finishing the season well," Rodgers said. "The Bears tried to keep us out of the playoffs last year in the last game of the year, and it would be nice to finish out the season the way we started it, with a strong showing in a home game. That being said, I think you have to take into account the health of your football team. We have some guys banged up. We'll see what Mike says this week. But until we hear differently, we'll prepare as if we're going to play."

Jets' Ryan says he deserves criticism

Rex Ryan was humbled, his boasts little more than hot air.

Forget kings of the city. The New York Jets are now a desperate team on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since Ryan took over as coach.

"We've won eight games," Ryan said Monday. "Obviously, we were hoping to win more than that."

That was certainly the plan. Ryan guaranteed it months ago, when he declared this Jets team the most talented bunch he has coached in New York. Even better than the teams that went to the AFC championship game in each of his first two years.

The Jets (8-7) have proved themselves to be anything but. Still, at this time last week, the Jets controlled their playoff destiny — a win, and they would've likely made the post-season. Ryan claimed his Jets were the best team in New York, superior to the Giants based on their two previous playoff runs.

Not this year. They need to win at Miami on Sunday and get lots of help to keep their season alive.

"Anything can happen in the NFL," left guard Matt Slauson said. "The Packers were kind of in a similar situation last year and sneaked in through the back door and wrecked shop. The NFL is a crazy world, and anyone can win any day."

Or lose, in humiliating fashion, as the Jets did on Saturday. In fact, Ryan's big words might have served as motivation in the Giants' 29-14 victory, but the coach has no regrets.

"I'll stand by everything I said," Ryan said on a conference call. "Did it work out? No, and I'll be the first one to say it never worked out. I'm responsible for that. Obviously, the Giants were the better team that day, without question. So, I deserve the criticism that I take for it. I definitely deserve it."

Baseball

Torrealba suspended in Venezuela

Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba was suspended Monday from Venezuela's professional baseball league for 66 games for striking an umpire. Torrealba issued an apology, saying he was embarrassed about his argument with a home plate umpire after striking out Friday. He angrily put a hand on the umpire's mask and shoved him. He was then ejected.

"On the field, I strive to be an example for children, especially those in my native Venezuela, and I regret my actions," Torrealba said. "I understand the reactions to the incident and will make every effort to set a positive example in the future."

The last word

New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan was asked by ESPN Radio about an Internet report that said the team is privately considering a change at quarterback in the off-season. Ryan said:

"There's no way we are looking to replace Mark Sanchez. ... Have we had the results we were hoping for? No, but again, the season is not over."

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