Kenny Gainwell unlikeliest of heroes as third-down RB etches himself into Eagles playoff lore


PHILADELPHIA — The list of elite rushing performances in Philadelphia Eagles postseason history is a short one. Steve Van Buren, Wilbert Montgomery, Brian Westbrook, and Donovan McNabb became franchise playoff legends thanks to their 100-yard games in memorable postseason performances.

Add Kenny Gainwell to that exclusive club. Yes, that Kenny Gainwell.

Gainwell led a dominant rushing attack by the Eagles in Saturday’s 38-7 blitzkrieg of the New York Giants, as Philadelphia finished with a whomping 268 yards on the ground. The second-year player led the Eagles with 112 rushing yards in becoming just the sixth Eagles player to rush for 100 yards in a postseason game — the first since Brian Westbrook in 2006.

Finishing with an impressive 9.2 yards per carry, Gainwell became just the second Eagles player to rush for 100 yards and average 9.0 yards per carry in a playoff game. Gainwell joined McNabb (107 yards, 9.7 yards per carry in 2003 NFC divisional round) as the only players to accomplish that feat.

“I can’t say nothing about myself. I can only say something about the offensive line,” Gainwell said after the game. “I mean, them guys. They came to work and they did what they had to do to make sure that we all get the yards and do what he had to do to get the win.”

The performance came from the most unlikely of running backs on the Eagles roster. Gainwell was the third-string running back on the depth chart, having an up-and-down season after the former fifth-round pick combined for 544 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie year.

Gainwell was supposed to take the next step in the Eagles’ offense heading into Year Two but struggled with inconsistency throughout training camp and fell behind Boston Scott on the depth chart. Stuck as the No. 3 running back most of the season, Gainwell saw his carries diminish and his numbers decline (409 combined yards, four touchdowns).

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