The Giants' run defense has been positively schizophrenic for most of the season.
In the last six games, the defense has allowed on the ground, in order, 191, 84, 80, 248, 19 and 158 yards. That last total was given up yesterday, in a 24-20 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers in MetLife Stadium.
As someone who values consistency, Tom Coughlin is not pleased with those high numbers in that lineup. And when he was asked today how he would prioritize all the Giants issues that must be addressed this week, he first said, "You've got to stop the run. In our game, you've got to stop the run."
Isaac Redman, listed third at running back on the Steelers' depth chart, rushed for 147 yards on 26 carries, including the game-winning one-yard touchdown with 4:02 left.
The Giants played without middle linebacker Chase Blackburn, who entered the game as the team's leading tackler with 46 (33 solo). The eight-year veteran also calls the defensive signals.
Coughlin said he "definitely" missed Blackburn, who suffered a hamstring injury the previous week in Dallas.
"We had some poor tackling, I think," Blackburn said. "Even the runs that were hit for three or four yard gains, we hit them at minus-one or one yard or at the line of scrimmage and they just continued to roll forward for a little bit. For a bigger back like that, we've got to get him by his legs and stop them churning. He did a good job of working his feet, continuing to drive and we've just got to get his feet out from under him so that we can get them in second-and-long and third-and-long instead of giving them manageable downs."
Second-year pro Mark Herzlich made his first start of the season in Blackburn's place. Coughlin said Herzlich "played okay. He can be better."
Herzlich was credited with eight tackles (six solo).
"I was in the right spots and that was one of the biggest things for your first game, to be in the right spots," Herzlich said. "On one play, I came through and kind of got chipped off a tackle and it could have been a tackle for a loss and it ended up gaining two or three yards. I have to be more aggressive on that touchdown route in the back of the end zone (Emmanuel Sanders' four-yard catch in the second quarter). There are ones where you look back and you say you could do better. Every single play can get a little better, but it was definitely something that I can build off of."
*Blackburn said he will test his hamstring later this week.
"We're going to continue to push it and hopefully it will continue to progress and I can be out there," Blackburn said. "We haven't tested it at 100 percent yet. When you have your high hamstring and you want to give it time to rest before you really try to push it, because if you push it and it doesn't work then it becomes a longer issue. We're going to have to test it at some point. So we'll determine when that point is whenever they tell me and we'll test it and give it a go and hopefully it will be ready this week."
*Defensive end Justin Tuck had an answer ready when a reporter said to him the Giants could be on a three-game losing streak if not for a handful of plays.
"No doubt, and then (with) a handful of plays we could be undefeated," he said. "It's the NFL. When I retire, I might start doing some studies on what that means, but the NFL is so funny that way. It's amazing that we lost this game to Pittsburgh and we feel like crap, but if we would have played the same exact way and Ben (Roethlisberger) would have fumbled one of those snaps and we would have picked it up and scored a touchdown to win the game at the buzzer we would have come in here and probably felt like we played the greatest game ever. So it's all about wins and losses in this league and it doesn't matter what you do in a loss or what you do in a win. If you lose the game, you're going to feel like crap. If you win it, you're going to feel tremendously better."
*The Giants uncharacteristically gave up kickoff returns of 50 and 68 yards and a 63-yard punt return vs. Pittsburgh.
"People out of position," Coughlin said. "People blocked. Not making the tackle. Not positioning ourselves to trap the return man, whether it be punt return or kickoff return. A lot of poor play with regard to that."
*The final numbers on the Giants' food drive to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy: 38,405 pounds of food and $18,723, making it by far the team's most successful drive ever.
*The Giants have received a one-game roster exemption for safety Will Hill, whose four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances has expired.
If the Giants want to activate Hill before the Monday deadline, the roster exemption will be lifted.