Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson vs. Colts run defense
Did you see that lick Sanders applied to Benson late in the first quarter to cause a turnover at the Bears' 43? Even I winced at the impact, and I was sitting on a sofa hundreds of miles away from the play. A few series later, Benson was knocked out of the game with a left knee injury, and the Colts had to worry about only one running back instead of two. Aside from a 52-yard scamper by Jones (112 yards on 15 carries) in the same period, the Colts handcuffed the Bears' power running game. Winner: Colts run defense.
Dallas Clark vs. Brian Urlacher
This was the most talked-about matchup that never came to fruition. Urlacher tipped Manning's first pass of the game, intended for Clark. After that, Clark spent a majority of his time lining up in the slot and attacking the edges and Bears safeties to find space in the defense. Clark caught just four passes for 36 yards, while Urlacher had to be more concerned with the Colts' running tandem of Dominic Rhodes (113 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown) and Joseph Addai (143 yards on 29 total touches). Winner: Draw.
Adam Vinatieri vs. Robbie Gould
Early on, Vinatieri had to be thinking, "I left New England for this?" A botched hold on a simple extra-point attempt and a flop of a tackle attempt aimed at slowing down Hester did not seem to bode well. Then Vinatieri's streak of 12 consecutive field goals in the postseason ended in the waning seconds of the first half when he hooked a 36-yard attempt wide left, but he did convert field goals of 29, 24 and 20 yards. At least Vinatieri was active. Gould, tied for the league lead in field goals during the regular season, was limited to two extra points and a 44-yard field goal. Winner: Vinatieri.