EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The NFC road to the Super Bowl will run through the Meadowlands because the New York Giants did what they had to do against frigid, swirling wind -- run the ball.
Derrick Ward ran for career-best 215 yards and set up Brandon Jacobs' winning 2-yard touchdown run with 9:57 left in overtime and the Super Bowl champion Giants re-established themselves as the team to beat by earning the NFC's top seed for the postseason with a thrilling 34-28 comeback victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night.
New York had clinched a first-round bye earlier in the day when Atlanta beat Minnesota, then added the icing on this frosty night by beating Carolina (11-4) in the winner-take-all game for the NFC's top seed.
The loss spoiled a record-tying, four-touchdown performance by Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, who gave Carolina a 28-20 lead with a 30-yard TD run 2 minutes into the final quarter. He also scored on runs of 13, 5 and 1 yards.
The Panthers, who have qualified for the playoffs, can clinch the NFC South and the No. 2 seed with a win at New Orleans next weekend.
The Panthers had a chance to win the game in regulation but the swirling wind at Giants Stadium pushed John Kasey's 50-yard field-goal attempt wide left, sparking some more celebratory snow throwing by Giants fans.