Panthers
Giants
28 - 34 Final
  for this game

Ward, Jacobs help Giants clinch home field

Dec 22, 2008 - 6:42 AM By Joe Rizzo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Earth, Wind and Home-field Advantage.

Brandon Jacobs ran two yards for the winning score 5:03 into overtime and Derrick Ward ran for a career-best 215 yards to lift the New York Giants to a thrilling 34-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers, securing home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

The Giants (12-3) will get a first-round bye in an attempt to defend their Super bowl title and will play at Giants Stadium for the maximum two games it would take to get back and defend their crown.

"How could it be any better?" Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It is two 11-3 teams, you are playing for a bye and for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and you work all year long to get to these kinds of games. The goal we had set was to win to win here at home for our fans. Our fans were very good tonight and they deserve to be home for the playoffs based on their performance tonight."

DeAngelo Williams scored all four touchdowns for the Panthers (11-4), who clinched a playoff berth but could have had home field had John Kasay's 50-yard field goal try with four seconds left in regulation not missed.

Next week the Panthers can win the NFC South and secure a first-round bye with a win in New Orleans (8-7), which is eliminated from playoff contention. If Carolina loses, it can win the division only if the Atlanta Falcons (10-5) fall at home to the 2-13 St. Louis Rams.

"We're in the playoffs," Carolina coach John Fox said. "That was a goal in the season. The team that won it a year ago was not a first seed. I don't think there's been a (No. 1 seed) that's won it in a while."

The Giants tied it with 3:24 left on a 1-yard plunge by Brandon Jacobs and Eli Manning's two-point conversion pass to Domenik Hixon.

"One word: resilient," Ward said. "And that's what coach Coughlin preaches to us every day, week in and week out. We showed it today. (We were) able to put aside all the drama and all of the things that are going on outside of football, and our offensive line being what it has been the last two weeks."

Carolina charged down the field and got in position on the left hash marks for the left-footed Kasay, who had the distance on the attempt but missed so narrowly that the shadow of the ball was visible against the left upright.

"It looked like it was going straight down the middle," Fox said. "It looked like it faded to the left at the end. It's just one play in a game, where it's one of those games that could have gone either way."

"Disappointing would be putting it mildly, so to speak," Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme said. "But that's part of it. The road to the Super Bowl goes through New York. We had a chance. We didn't get it done."

Jacobs ran for 87 yards and three touchdowns, but it was Ward who stole the show.

Jacobs, Ward and third-stringer Ahmad Bradshaw have been deemed "Earth, Wind and Fire" for their time-share at running back, leading the Giants to the top of the NFL in rushing this season. Although Bradshaw did not get a carry Sunday, New York gashed Carolina for 301 yards on the ground.

"We didn't play well at all up front and that's where most of the blame is going," Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers said. "Even without seeing the tape, I can tell you that. Anytime the other team rushes for 300 yards, that's the D-line."

In overtime, Ward exploded for a 51-yard run to the Carolina 36, carried for 14 yards on 3rd-and-7 to the Panthers' 19 and ran 17 yards to the 2 to set up Jacobs' game-winning score.

"You always dream about stuff like this when you are a little kid," said Ward, who is 52 rushing yards shy of 1,000 for the season. "And for it to happen is so surreal right now."

The Giants' rushing attack helped overcome Williams, who ran for four touchdowns and 108 yards on 24 carries for Carolina.

Williams capped Carolina's first three drives with touchdown runs, scoring from 13, five and one yard as the Panthers built a 21-13 halftime lead. Williams has a team-record 20 touchdowns this season, including 18 rushing.

Carolina's 20 rushing scores in the last six games are the best such total in the NFL since the 1962 Green Bay Packers.

The Giants rallied with an 84-yard drive that devoured 8:36 and ended with Manning's 4-yard scoring pass to tight end Kevin Boss with 59 seconds left in the third quarter. They elected to kick the extra point and closed within 21-20 rather than chasing a potentially game-tying two-point conversion.

Delhomme completed a pair of third-down passes to spur on the ensuing drive, which Williams culminated with a 30-yard scoring burst around right end to make it 28-20 with 12:50 remaining in the game.

Williams has six touchdowns runs of 30 or more yards, one shy of matching Jim Brown's 1958 NFL record. Brown also had six in 1963.

Each team scored on its first two drives.

The Giants took the opening kickoff and melted 5:26 off the clock before John Carney booted a 32-yard field goal, but Carolina responded on the ensuing possession with a 77-yard drive, culminated by Williams' 13-yard run right up the middle to make it 7-3 with 6:16 left in the first quarter.

With that score, Williams broke teammate Muhsin Muhammed's team single-season record of 16 touchdowns and extended another club record by reaching the end zone for the eighth straight game.

Going with their ball-control philosophy, the Giants ground out a 13-play, 74-yard drive that Jacobs finished by bulling into the end zone from the 2-yard line, giving New York a 10-7 edge early in the second quarter.

The Giants dominated time of possession, holding the ball 13 minutes more than Carolina.






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    Panthers 28, Giants 34  FinalDec 22 12:27 AM
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    Panthers 28, Giants 34  FinalDec 21 11:50 PM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH
    --- --- --- ---
    CAROLINA 7 14 0 7
    NY GIANTS 3 10 7 8
    OT TOTAL
    --- -----
    CAROLINA 0 28
    NY GIANTS 6 34 FINAL IN OVERTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NYG - FG, JOHN CARNEY 32 YD, 5:26. Drive: 9
    plays, 61 yard

    Dec 21 11:33 PM


  • NFL
    TD NYG
    BRANDON JACOBS 2 YD RUN
    CAROLINA 28
    NY GIANTS 34 9:57 LEFT, 1ST OT

    Panthers 28, Giants 34  OT - 9:57Dec 21 11:33 PM
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  • NFL
    END, 4TH QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 7 14 0 7 28
    NY GIANTS 3 10 7 8 28 GOING INTO OVERTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NYG - FG, JOHN CARNEY 32 YD, 5:26. Drive: 9
    plays, 61 yards in 5:26. Key plays:
    Manning 40-yard pass to Hixon on
    3rd-and-6 to Carolina 12. NY GIANTS
    3-0
    CAR - TD, DEANGELO WILLIA

    Dec 21 11:15 PM
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    Panthers 28, Giants 28  End of Reg.Dec 21 11:15 PM
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    Panthers 28, Giants 28  4th - 1:03Dec 21 11:10 PM
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  • NFL
    TD NYG
    BRANDON JACOBS 1 YD RUN
    (ELI MANNING PASS TO DOMENIK HIXON FOR TWO-POINT CONVERSION)
    CAROLINA 28
    NY GIANTS 28 3:21 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Panthers 28, Giants 28  4th - 3:21Dec 21 11:00 PM
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    Panthers 28, Giants 28  4th - 3:21Dec 21 11:00 PM
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  • NFL
    TD CAR
    DEANGELO WILLIAMS 30 YD RUN
    (JOHN KASAY KICK)
    CAROLINA 28
    NY GIANTS 20 12:50 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Panthers 28, Giants 20  4th - 12:50Dec 21 10:34 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 7 14 0 21
    NY GIANTS 3 10 7 20 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NYG - FG, JOHN CARNEY 32 YD, 5:26. Drive: 9
    plays, 61 yards in 5:26. Key plays:
    Manning 40-yard pass to Hixon on
    3rd-and-6 to Carolina 12. NY GIANTS
    3-0
    CAR - TD, DEANGELO WILLIAMS 13 Y

    Dec 21 10:29 PM
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    Panthers 21, Giants 20  3rd - 0:59Dec 21 10:26 PM


  • NFL
    TD NYG
    KEVIN BOSS 4 YD PASS FROM ELI MANNING
    (JOHN CARNEY KICK)
    CAROLINA 21
    NY GIANTS 20 0:59 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Panthers 21, Giants 20  3rd - 0:59Dec 21 10:22 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 7 14 21
    NY GIANTS 3 10 13 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NYG - FG, JOHN CARNEY 32 YD, 5:26. Drive: 9
    plays, 61 yards in 5:26. Key plays:
    Manning 40-yard pass to Hixon on
    3rd-and-6 to Carolina 12. NY GIANTS
    3-0
    CAR - TD, DEANGELO WILLIAMS 13 YD RU

    Dec 21 9:43 PM


  • NFL
    FG NYG
    JOHN CARNEY 35 YD
    CAROLINA 21
    NY GIANTS 13 0:50 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Panthers 21, Giants 13  2nd - 0:50Dec 21 9:41 PM
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    Panthers 21, Giants 10  2nd - 2:00Dec 21 9:33 PM


  • NFL
    TD CAR
    DEANGELO WILLIAMS 1 YD RUN
    (JOHN KASAY KICK)
    CAROLINA 21
    NY GIANTS 10 4:45 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Panthers 21, Giants 10  2nd - 4:45Dec 21 9:25 PM


  • NFL
    TD CAR
    DEANGELO WILLIAMS 5 YD RUN
    (JOHN KASAY KICK)
    CAROLINA 14
    NY GIANTS 10 8:12 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Panthers 14, Giants 10  2nd - 8:12Dec 21 9:10 PM


  • NFL
    TD NYG
    BRANDON JACOBS 2 YD RUN
    (JOHN CARNEY KICK)
    CAROLINA 7
    NY GIANTS 10 13:38 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Panthers 7, Giants 10  2nd - 13:38Dec 21 8:58 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    CAROLINA 7 7
    NY GIANTS 3 3 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: NYG - FG, JOHN CARNEY 32 YD, 5:26. Drive: 9
    plays, 61 yards in 5:26. Key plays:
    Manning 40-yard pass to Hixon on
    3rd-and-6 to Carolina 12. NY GIANTS
    3-0
    CAR - TD, DEANGELO WILLIAMS 13 Y

    Dec 21 8:54 PM
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    Panthers 0, Giants 3  1st - 9:28Dec 21 8:40 PM


  • NFL
    TD CAR
    DEANGELO WILLIAMS 13 YD RUN
    (JOHN KASAY KICK)
    CAROLINA 7
    NY GIANTS 3 6:16 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Panthers 7, Giants 3  1st - 6:16Dec 21 8:40 PM


  • NFL
    FG NYG
    JOHN CARNEY 32 YD
    CAROLINA 0
    NY GIANTS 3 9:34 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Panthers 0, Giants 3  1st - 9:34Dec 21 8:30 PM
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