Fast and Flurrious
In made-to-order weather for the Bears, running back Cedric Benson blasted out of the grasp of Saints safety Josh Bullocks and into the end zone at Soldier Field in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday (page 46). Behind 140 rushing yards and four New Orleans turnovers, Chicago won 39--14, making Lovie Smith (inset) the first African-American head coach to lead a team to the Super Bowl.
After nailing a winner in her fourth-round match against Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams screamed with joy at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Sunday (page 77). Ranked No. 81 after playing in only four events because of injuries in 2006, Williams, a two-time Australian Open champ, advanced with a 6--3, 6--2 victory.
Blue by You
UCLA sophomore forward Alfred Aboya attempted to drive by Arizona's Chase Budinger during their Pac-10 showdown last Saturday at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. With Aboya pulling down 11 rebounds, the third-ranked Bruins prevailed 73--69.
For more Leading Off pictures, download mySI at SI.com/mySI.
Photographs by Peter Read Miller
Photograph by David Callow
Photograph by John W. McDonough