Giants Answer the Bell

AP Photo - Bill Kostroun

For most of the night, it looked like Big Blue was going to shrink when the stakes were the highest. But that was for most of the night. Late in the second half and overtime, the Giants did what Super Bowl champions do: they found a way to win the game.

No matter how many potential knockout punches the Panthers threw, the Giants played the role of Rocky, continuing to get up off the mat time after time after time. As a result, the road to Super Bowl XLIII goes through East Rutherford. The road to Tampa will travel right through Giants Stadium.

One moment Carolina's John Kasay was lining up for the game-winning 50-yard field goal in the waning seconds. Moments later, after Kasay's kick sailed wide left, Brandon Jacobs was bulling his way into the end zone in overtime. After the game, Derrick Ward spoke of New York's resiliency. Quite simply, there's no better word to describe this never-say-die group.

While the 2007 Giants serve as the poster boys for the fact that playing at home guarantees nothing in the postseason, it sure as heck is nicer than having to travel. All that stands between New York and a return trip to the big dance is two home wins. They finished the 2008 campaign with a 7-1 home mark. Now, only two more wins and they'll be back in the global spotlight. They came very close to potentially having to travel to Carolina for the NFC Championship Game. But they willed themselves to ensure their team and their fans that all that matters in the NFC in the coming months will occur in the 07073 zip code.

Antonio Pierce said it after the game: the Giants' swagger is back. As for the two disappointing defeats to Philly and Dallas? Those are nothing more than distant memories.

Warding them off

While everyone worries about whether or not New York will be able to re-sign Brandon Jacobs, a free agent at year's end, Derrick Ward just continues to produce. No, he wasn't electric against the Cowboys a week back. But no one on that Giants offense was. At the end of the day there was no sense of urgency for Big Blue in Big D. There was no pressure. That all changed when Carolina came to town. Faced with the prospect of allowing home-field advantage to slip through their grasp, Ward grabbed the rock and wouldn't let go until the Giants had won.

Yes, it was Jacobs that scored three TDs, including the conference-clincher in overtime. But without Ward, the Giants don't win this game. Heck, without Ward, the Giants don't even come close.

So while much will be made of Jacobs' future in the coming months, lest we forget that it was Ward who served as the MVP in the Giants' biggest game of the year.

Shame on you

To all the Giants fans that pelted the Carolina bench with snowballs, you should be ashamed. Hopefully someone was able to identify you and your season ticket privileges will be revoked. Not only is throwing snow and ice from the stadium's upper reaches dangerous, but it's childish and moronic as well. You should leave that type of behavior to Eagles and Jets fans because right now you look just as bad as they always do.

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