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).
The diminished role is hard for Gainwell to accept after he appeared on his way toward becoming the No. 1 running back in this offense at one point. Being the third-down back is critical for the Eagles' rushing attack, which helps Gainwell embrace it.
"I know my role," Gainwell said. "And I play my role to the best ability I can. I don't take it for granted. I go out there and work extremely hard. Try to block as much as I can and when I do get the ball on third downs, I want to go out and execute."
Gainwell capped the career night with a 35-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to put the exclamation point on the 31-point victory. The touchdown run was the longest in the NFL playoffs since Lamar Jackson's 48-yard run in the 2020 AFC wild-card round and was also the longest for the Eagles since Westbrook rushed for a 62-yard score in the 2006 NFC divisional round.
While Gainwell was one of the unlikeliest players to be a postseaosn hero for the Eagles, he waited patiently through a frustrating season for this moment. The Eagles needed Gainwell to revert back to the explosive player he was in 2021.
Now he's etched in franchise playoff lore.
"I did everything I could to make sure I could come in this game and be the best that I can," Gainwell said. "I give it all to my offseason work and trusting what I can do. ... Every opportunity I get to help the team out, I'm forever grateful for it.
"Sure it's up-and-down, but I can't say enough about how I go out there and handle business."