ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. The New York Giants clinched a playoff berth Sunday, overcoming a Bills team inspired by Kevin Everett's return to the field where he was injured.
Brandon Jacobs scored twice and Ahmad Bradshaw had an 88-yard touchdown run, as the usually pass-happy Giants leaned heavily on their running attack in a 38-21 win. Kawika Mitchell's 20-yard interception return produced the go-ahead points and sparked a three-touchdown fourth-quarter rally.
The Giants (10-5), who reached the playoffs for a third straight season, fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter, as the Bills came out fired up after Everett addressed the team before the game. It was the tight end's first appearance in Buffalo since he sustained a severe spinal cord injury in the Bills' season opener Sept. 9.
Everett, who is now walking on his own, watched the sloppy game from a suite near midfield.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning fumbled five times, losing two of them, and threw two interceptions, in a game played under harsh conditions. Winds gusted over 30 miles an hour, and the players were pelted by a persistent rain that turned into snow in the fourth quarter.
The Bills (7-8), eliminated from playoff contention a week earlier, mustered little response after the strong first quarter. They committed four turnovers, including three Trent Edwards interceptions.
New York won its seventh straight road game, a franchise single-season record, and avoided a potential must-win finale against the New England Patriots next weekend.
The Giants squandered two golden scoring opportunities on consecutive drives after falling behind 21-17 in the second half.
Reuben Droughns was stuffed for a 4-yard loss on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Manning then drove the Giants to the Bills 11, then fumbled the snap on third-and-1.
The Bills, however, gave it back two plays later when Edwards' pass was a little behind receiver Lee Evans. The ball bounced off Evans' pads and directly to Mitchell, who ran it back for a score.
Bradshaw then ran 88 yards for a touchdown with 6:12 left and, 22 seconds later, Corey Webster scored on a 34-yard interception return.
Jacobs finished with a career-high 145 yards rushing before leaving the game in the second half with a sprained left ankle. Bradshaw, who scored his first career touchdown, finished with 151 yards rushing as the Giants combined for 385 yards of offense, including 291 on the ground.
The Bills fell apart on offense after looking unstoppable in scoring on their first two possessions. Michael Gaines had a 3-yard touchdown catch and Evans had a 4-yarder.
But Buffalo managed just three first downs on its next five possessions before Marshawn Lynch scored on a 3-yard run, set up after Manning was intercepted on the first play of the third quarter.
Edwards matched Manning's sloppiness. The rookie third-round pick finished 9-of-26 for 161 yards and threw three interceptions, all in the second half, and lost two fumbles. Lynch finished with 70 yards rushing to give him 1,010 this season, becoming the fourth Bills rookie to break the 1,000-yard plateau, and first since Greg Bell had 1,100 in 1984.
Leaning on the running attack was a departure for the Giants after coordinator Kevin Gilbride was criticized for having Manning attempt 52 passes he completed only 18 in harsh, windy conditions during last week's 22-10 loss to the Redskins.
Jacobs cut the Bills' lead to 14-7 when he scored on a 6-yard run.
On New York's next possession, Jacobs found a big hole off right tackle and scampered untouched 43 yards up the right sideline, outrunning safety Donte Whitner. It was a tough series for Whitner who, a play earlier, was penalized for running into punter Jeff Feagles, allowing the Giants to retain possession.