The NFC road to the Super Bowl will run through the Meadowlands because the New York Giants did what they had to do in bad weather - 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 champions clinched the NFC's top seed for the postseason with a 34-28 win over visiting Carolina last night.
The final score warmed the hearts of the fans, who braved blustery wind and snow packed under their seats to see New York pull off the dramatic win. They tossed snowballs on to the field earlier and threw it like confetti when Jacobs won the game.
New York (12-3) forced the overtime when Jacobs plowed into the end zone from a yard out, and Eli Manning hit Domenik Hixon on a slant pattern for the tying two-point conversion with 3:21 to play.
Jacobs finished with three short touchdown runs, and Manning and Kevin Boss combined on a 4-yard touchdown pass as the Giants found the cold and wind to their liking in snapping a two-game losing streak.
New York clinched a first-round bye earlier in the day when Atlanta beat Minnesota, but added the icing on a frosty night by beating Carolina (11-4) in the winner-take-all game for the NFC's top seed.
In other games:
* TITANS 31, STEELERS 14: At Nashville, Kerry Collins (20-for-29, 216 yards) threw for a touchdown, Chris Johnson and LenDale White ran for a score apiece, and Tennessee (13-2) routed Pittsburgh (11-4). Tennessee clinched the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
* DOLPHINS 38, CHIEFS 31: At Kansas City, Chad Pennington (26-for-34, 235 yards) threw three touchdown passes as Miami edged the Chiefs (2-13) in temperatures that plunged into single digits. The Dolphins (10-5) can clinch the AFC East next week.
* SEAHAWKS 13, JETS 3: At Seattle, Maurice Morris sliced through the snow like a sled for a season-high 116 yards and John Carlson scored the only touchdown on a short pass from backup Seneca Wallace as the lowly Seahawks (4-11) beat the New York Jets (9-6).
* BILLS 30, BRONCOS 23: At Denver, the Broncos (8-7) blew an early 13-0 lead and lost to Buffalo (7-8) in frigid Invesco Field, setting up an all-or-nothing game against the Chargers next week for the division title and a playoff berth.
* PATRIOTS 47, CARDINALS 7: At Foxborough, Mass., New England crushed Arizona on a snow-covered field, holding a huge margin of 514 to 186 total yards. It won't keep the Cardinals (8-7) out of the playoffs, but if the Patriots (10-5) win at Buffalo next Sunday, they still might become the second team to miss the postseason with an 11-5 record.
* 49ERS 17, RAMS 16: At St. Louis, Isaac Bruce became the fifth player to reach 1,000 catches on a 3-yard touchdown grab with 4:12 to go and passed Tim Brown for second on the career yards receiving list as San Francisco (6-9) beat the Rams (2-13).
* BENGALS 14, BROWNS 0: At Cleveland, Cedric Benson rushed for a career-high 171 yards and Leon Hall returned one of his three interceptions 50 yards for a touchdown to help Cincinnati (3-11-1) beat the Browns (4-11).
* RAIDERS 27, TEXANS 17: At Oakland, Johnnie Lee Higgins caught a 29-yard TD pass and returned a punt 80 yards for another score in the third quarter, leading the Raiders (4-11) past Houston (7-8). *