Brinkley, a second-year running back who carried the ball just twice in his rookie season, rushed 10 times for 43 yards in the Chargers' 23-20 overtime loss. His 2-yard touchdown run and conversion catch forged a tie with 7 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
The 5-foot-8, 208 pound speedster, a special-teams player before Monday, also had three receptions for 24 yards, including a spectacular 20-yard grab along the sideline that set up his first NFL score.
"I'm real excited, but it's not a shock to me," Brinkley said Tuesday afternoon. "This is what I've been working toward my whole life. It's why I train and practice as hard as I do."
Brinkley's chance to shine in the late going came when running back Ryan Matthews, the Chargers' leading rusher, left on the game-tying drive with a strained groin. Backup Mike Tolbert was inactive because of a hamstring strain.
"I've been on standby for a few weeks," said the 26-year-old Brinkley. "I was patient waiting for my turn. I knew my time would come, though. And I knew I would be ready if I was called on."
Many thought Brinkley, who rushed for 1,164 yards and scored seven touchdowns in his senior season at Syracuse, would not cut it in the NFL after he was shot twice in Elkins Park in a case of mistaken identity in July 2009.
Then a newly signed free agent for the Chargers, Brinkley had to work his way back into the football shape that helped him rush for 7,429 yards and score 85 touchdowns in high school.
"Because of all that happened to me, I step on the field with a chip on my shoulder," he said. "Nobody knows what went down but me. No one has been through the same things that I've experienced. It makes me even more determined."
Fluck, for one, said he never questioned Brinkley's ability to bounce back from the two bullets to the shoulder that landed the city's all-time leading rusher in Albert Einstein Medical Center for a week.
"He's a fighter, not a quitter," the 13-year head coach said. "He was going to do anything he possibly could do to get back on the field."
Against Kansas City, Brinkley cut the Chiefs' lead to 20-18 by diving over the top and extending the ball past the plane of the goal line.
"In college, I would always do that," he said. "I'm pretty good at knowing when to dive and when not to dive. I told my offensive linemen before the play that I was going up top, and they said, 'Let's do it.' "
Of his 20-yard, highlight-reel catch, Brinkley said, "I saw at the line of scrimmage that a linebacker was covering me. When I saw that, I knew he wouldn't be able to keep up with me. I got ahead of him, and [quarterback] Philip Rivers threw a great ball to me."
And the two-point tying conversion catch on the left flat? "We practice that play a lot," Brinkley said. "This time, I slipped coming out of the backfield. My man thought I was going to go inside, so I went outside."
On Tuesday, the buzz at West Catholic, located at 45th and Chestnut Streets, centered on Brinkley's showing before a national audience.
"Whenever something like that happens, it's a great thing for the school," said Brother Tim Ahern, in his seventh year as the school's president. "You can't pay for that type of publicity. It reminds me of [West Catholic grad] Herb Magee going into the Basketball Hall of Fame."
Brinkley, who worked out over the summer with Eagles running back LeSean McCoy in Frankford and Upper Darby, was already looking ahead to Sunday's matchup against the Green Bay Packers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
On his to-do list, he said, was buying a No. 44 Chargers jersey for his 11/2-year-old son, Elijah, who lives in Philadelphia with his mother.
"I'm trying to do the right things so my son can have the better things in life," he said. "I had some tough times growing up. I want him to have it easier."
Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, email@example.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone