New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) is tackled...

New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw (44) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker K.J. Wright (50) and David Hawthorne (57) during the first quarter. (Oct. 9, 2011) Credit: AP

Two things have come to define successful Giants football over the years: the ability to run and the ability to stop the run. It's a lineage that goes all the way back to Bill Parcells' Super Bowl-winning days, and it's been the cornerstone of Tom Coughlin's tenure as well.

This year, though, the Giants have had trouble accomplishing both. They are averaging 83.8 rushing yards per game, which was 27th in the NFL going into Monday night's game, and are allowing 122.2 rushing yards per game, 21st in the league.

That they won three games in a row cloaked some of the problems, although the internal awareness certainly was there. Now that they lost to the Seahawks in a game in which they ran for 69 yards and gave up 145, the inefficiency on both sides of the line of scrimmage is becoming alarming.

"We're just going to keep hammering away at it because that is philosophically what I hold to and believe in," Coughlin said Monday. "I understand that you wouldn't be able to sense it at this point, but it's something that we feel we have to do."

They have a ways to fall before they start approaching the worst numbers in franchise history. The 1978 defense allowed 189.7 rushing yards per game and the 1945 team ran for only 76.9 yards per game. The Giants hope to fix both situations before those ignominious numbers come within reach.

"Obviously, we're not ourselves," said defensive captain Justin Tuck, who sat out the last two games. "I don't know where that would have changed . . . It's obvious to say that we're not running or stopping the run as good as we have in the past, and that has to change if we're going to have any success this year."

The Giants' run defense wasn't all bad against the Seahawks. They gave up 5.0 yards per carry, but about a third of Seattle's rushing yardage came on a 47-yard run by Marshawn Lynch late in the first quarter. Lynch ran outside and there was no containment; rookie outside linebacker Jacquian Williams was blocked, cornerback Corey Webster read pass and stayed with his receiver across the field, and safety Deon Grant was bumped out of the play by Webster.

"We keep hurting ourselves," linebacker Michael Boley said.

Offensively, the Giants have been unable to get similar big plays. They have only one run of at least 20 yards this season -- only two other teams have played five games without at least two 20-plus runs; the Jets (one) and the Colts (none) -- and are ranked 30th in yards per carry at 3.2.

The Giants often point to the extra safety at the line of scrimmage as an obstacle to their running the ball effectively, but Coughlin said that's not an excuse. "You have to continue to try to run in there even when that does happen," he said.

Right tackle Kareem McKenzie said the issue is "making mistakes, plain and simple." But he's confident that the Giants will find a way to start running.

"Why wouldn't I be?" he asked. "This is only Week 5, going into Week 6. It's a long season and eventually things will come together. We'll come together, hunker down and do what we need to do."

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