1981 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1981 Dallas Cowboys season was their 22nd in the league. The team matched their previous output of 12–4, winning their fifth division title in six years.[1] They lost the Conference Championship game for the second straight season.

The season began with four straight victories, followed by two losses (including a surprising 45–14 blowout loss to the 49ers in week six). The Cowboys rebounded to win 8 of their 9 games to clinch the NFC East but had to settle for the conference's number two seed behind the 49ers.

The Cowboys easily defeated Tampa Bay in the divisional playoff to earn a rematch with the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The game was much closer this time, and the Cowboys still held a 27–21 lead with less than a minute to play. However, Joe Montana led a late drive and hit Dwight Clark in the famous "Catch" to give San Francisco a 28–27 lead. On the ensuing Cowboys possession, Danny White completed a pass to Drew Pearson, and was only an arms length away from breaking free from Eric Wright and most likely scoring a touchdown. Jim Stuckey recovered a White fumble on the next play, then the 49ers ran out the clock for the win.

1981 Dallas Cowboys season
Head coachTom Landry
General managerTex Schramm
OwnerClint Murchison, Jr.
Home fieldTexas Stadium
Results
Record12–4
Division place1st NFC East
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (Buccaneers) 38–0
Lost Conference Championship (49ers) 28–27

Offseason

NFL Draft

1981 Dallas Cowboys draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 26 Howard Richards  Tackle Missouri
2 53 Doug Donley  Wide Receiver Ohio State
3 81 Glen Titensor  Guard BYU
4 91 Scott Pelluer  Linebacker Washington State from San Francisco
4 108 Derrie Nelson  Linebacker Nebraska
5 137 Danny Spradlin  Linebacker Tennessee
6 163 Vince Skillings  Defensive back Ohio State
7 173 Ron Fellows  Cornerback Florida State
7 191 Ken Miller  Defensive back Eastern Michigan
8 218 Paul Piurowski  Linebacker Florida State
9 246 Mike Wilson  Wide Receiver Washington State
10 273 Pat Graham  Defensive tackle California
11 302 Tim Morrison  Guard Georgia
12 329 Nate Lundy  Wide Receiver Indiana
      Made roster    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

Undrafted free agents

1981 Undrafted Free Agents of note
Player Position College
Michael Downs Safety Rice
Angelo King Linebacker South Carolina State
Everson Walls Cornerback Grambling State
Steve Wright Tackle Northern Iowa

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance Record
1 September 6, 1981 at Washington Redskins W 26–10
55,045
1–0
2 September 13, 1981 St. Louis Cardinals W 30–17
63,602
2–0
3 September 21, 1981 at New England Patriots W 35–21
60,311
3–0
4 September 27, 1981 New York Giants W 18–10
63,449
4–0
5 October 4, 1981 at St. Louis Cardinals L 20–17
49,477
4–1
6 October 11, 1981 at San Francisco 49ers L 45–14
57,574
4–2
7 October 18, 1981 Los Angeles Rams W 29–17
64,649
5–2
8 October 25, 1981 Miami Dolphins W 28–27
64,221
6–2
9 November 1, 1981 at Philadelphia Eagles W 17–14
72,111
7–2
10 November 9, 1981 Buffalo Bills W 27–14
62,583
8–2
11 November 15, 1981 at Detroit Lions L 27–24
79,694
8–3
12 November 22, 1981 Washington Redskins W 24–10
64,587
9–3
13 November 26, 1981 Chicago Bears W 10–9
63,499
10–3
14 December 6, 1981 at Baltimore Colts W 37–13
54,871
11–3
15 December 13, 1981 Philadelphia Eagles W 21–10
64,955
12–3
16 December 19, 1981 at New York Giants L 13–10
73,009
12–4

Game notes

Week 10

1 234Total
Bills 7 700 14
• Cowboys 7 0200 27

[2]

Week 12

1 234Total
Redskins 0 730 10
• Cowboys 7 377 24
  • Date: November 22
  • Location: Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas
  • Game start: 3:00 p.m.
  • Game attendance: 64,587
  • Game weather: 51°F; wind 7
  • TV announcers (CBS): Tom Brookshier and Roger Staubach

[3]

Playoffs

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
Divisional January 2, 1982 Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 38–0
64,848
Conference January 10, 1982 at San Francisco 49ers L 28–27
60,525

Standings

NFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Dallas Cowboys(2) 12 4 0 .750 6–2 8–4 367 277 L1
Philadelphia Eagles(4) 10 6 0 .625 4–4 7–5 368 221 W1
New York Giants(5) 9 7 0 .563 5–3 8–6 295 257 W3
Washington Redskins 8 8 0 .500 3–5 6–6 347 349 W3
St. Louis Cardinals 7 9 0 .438 2–6 4–8 315 408 L2

Roster

Dallas Cowboys 1981 roster
Quarterbacks

Running Backs

Wide Receivers

Tight Ends

Offensive Linemen

Defensive Linemen

Linebackers

Defensive Backs

Special Teams

Reserve Lists

Rookies in italics
45 Active, 6 Inactive

References

  1. ^ 1981 Dallas Cowboys
  2. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
  3. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com
Scoring summary
1BUFJerry Butler 16 yard pass from Joe Ferguson (Nick Mike-Mayer kick)BUF 7–0
1DALDoug Cosbie 12 yard pass from Danny White (Rafael Septién kick)Tied 7–7
2BUFCurtis Brown 9 yard pass from Joe Cribbs (Nick Mike-Mayer kick)BUF 14–7
3DALTony Dorsett 73 yard pass from Danny White (Rafael Septien kick)Tied 14–14
3DALTony Hill 37 yard pass from Danny White (Rafael Septien kick)DAL 21–14
3DALRafael Septien 47 yard field goalDAL 24–14
3DALRafael Septien 31 yard field goalDAL 27–14
Scoring summary
1DALButch Johnson 28 yard pass from Danny White (Rafael Septién kick)DAL 7–0
2DALRafael Septien 25 yard field goalDAL 10–0
2WSHNick Giaquinto 7 yard pass from Joe Theismann (Mark Moseley kick)DAL 10–7
3WSHMark Moseley 26 yard field goalTie 10–10
3DALDoug Cosbie 10 yard pass from Danny White (Rafael Septien kick)DAL 17–10
4DALRon Springs 1 yard run (Rafael Septien kick)DAL 24–10
Franchise
Stadiums
Culture
Lore
Rivalries
Division championships (23)
Conference championships (10)
League Championships (5)
Media
Current league affiliations
Seasons (60)

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