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Rapid Reaction: Giants 34, Panthers 28 (OT)

12/21/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Carolina Panthers weren't able to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Panthers will host at least one game. But Sunday night's 34-28 overtime loss to the New York Giants means the Panthers won't be the top seed in the NFC. The No. 1 seed goes to the Giants.

A meeting of the conference's two best teams lived up to the hype and it might end up being a preview of the NFC Championship Game. But the Panthers weren't able to earn all rights to host it in Bank of America Stadium, where Carolina is undefeated this year.

The only way the Panthers can host is if the Giants don't reach the NFC title game. But Carolina is in line for a first-round bye and a home game in the second round of the playoffs. That's a better start than Carolina's last two swings in the postseason. In 2005, Carolina won at Giants' Stadium and Chicago's Soldier Field before losing at Seattle in a game where travel fatigue was a big factor.

Carolina also won on the road at St. Louis and Philadelphia in its 2003 Super Bowl season.