1980 NFC Championship Game: Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys
The 1980 NFC Championship Game was the shining moment of the Dick Vermeil era in Philadelphia. The game, played at the Vet against the hated Cowboys propelled the Eagles into Super Bowl XV. Played on January 11, 1981 , a team that featured Ron Jaworski as QB and Vince Papale on Special Teams. Nostalgia plus action plus Eagles glory, as they took down their rivals, the Dallas Cowboys.
at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Game time: 12:30 p.m. EST
Game weather: 17 °F (−8 °C), sunny, breezy
Game attendance: 71,522
Referee: Jerry Markbreit
TV announcers (CBS): Pat Summerall (play-by-play) and Tom Brookshier (color commentator)
Although Philadelphia quarterback Ron Jaworski completed only nine of 29 passes for 91 yards and was intercepted twice, running back Wilbert Montgomery led the Eagles to a victory by rushing for 194 yards and a touchdown. Dallas had been the highest scoring team in the NFL during the regular season, but against the Eagles defense, they could only gain 206 yards and score a single touchdown. They also fumbled five times, losing three of them.
Dallas was forced to a three and out on their opening drive, and the kick from quarterback Danny White (who also served as the team's punter) went just 26 yards before John Sciarra returned it to the Cowboys 42-yard line. One play later, Montgomery scored on a 42-yard rushing touchdown. The Eagles earned themselves chances to score on their next two drives. However, they were stopped both times and their special teams unit failed to capitalize. First, they drove to the Dallas 23-yard line, only to have Tony Franklin's field goal attempt blocked by Dallas cornerback Aaron Mitchell. Then they drove to the Cowboys 16-yard line, where Harvey Martin sacked Jaworski on third down and a high snap on the field goal try sailed right through Jaworski's hands.
Midway through the second quarter, White, who had been held to negative passing yardage, finally got the Cowboys going on a 10-play, 68-yard drive, completing an 18-yard screen pass to Tony Dorsett and a 12-yarder to Drew Pearson before Dorsett wrapped it up with a 3-yard touchdown run to tie the game. The score would remain 7–7 at halftime, due to another blown scoring chance by the Eagles when Jaworski's touchdown pass to Harold Carmichael was canceled out by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on guard Woody Peoples.
In the third quarter, the first turnover of the game occurred when Philadelphia's Billy Campfield recovered a fumbled punt return from James Jones. Dallas quickly took the ball back with Anthony Dickerson's interception, but they only held on for a few plays before White lost a fumble due to a massive hit from Carl Hairston, which defensive end Dennis Harrison recovered on the Dallas 11-yard line to set up Franklin's 26-yard field goal. Dallas seemed to be in position to respond when tight end Jay Saldi made a leaping catch on the Eagles 40-yard line for a 28-yard gain, White's longest completion of the day. On the next play rookie cornerback Roynell Young stripped the ball from Dorsett, and linebacker Jerry Robinson returned it 22 yards to the Dallas 38-yard line. Six plays later, running back Leroy Harris scored a 9-yard touchdown to give the Eagles a 17–7 lead. Later on, Montgomery's 55-yard carry put the Eagles in position to put the game away, but Mitchell kept Dallas' chances alive by intercepting a pass from Jaworski in the end zone.
Despite the interception, the Cowboys' offense was still unable to move the ball. For the rest of the game, the Cowboys never made it into Eagles territory, and after Philadelphia put together a 62-yard drive to score the final points of the game on Franklin's 20-yard field goal with 2:10 remaining, Young intercepted a pass from White on their final play of the game with 30 seconds remaining.
The Eagles, as the home team, elected to wear their road white jerseys instead of their home green jerseys so as to force Dallas to wear their rarely used blue jerseys rather than their familiar white jerseys; through the years, the Cowboys' blue jerseys were said to be jinxed since they often lost wearing them – especially in Super Bowl V. This would be the last game in which the Cowboys wore their royal blue jerseys; in 1981, they debuted a new navy blue uniform with a significantly different and darker shade of blue than that still used for the numbers on their white jerseys.
Montgomery finished with more all-purpose yards (208) then the entire Cowboys offense. This was the first time Dallas had ever allowed an opposing player to rush for over 100 yards in team postseason history. This would be the Eagles' last playoff victory until the 1992 season. Super Bowl XV began a five-game postseason losing streak for the franchise.
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