Flashback, Cowboys vs Eagles – 1981

The Cowboys entered this Week 15 match-up against the Eagles looking to capture their 12th NFC East title in the last 16 years. The Eagles had taken the division title from the Cowboys one year earlier and now the Cowboys wanted it back.

Danny White drove the Cowboys offense into Eagles territory on their first two possessions to setup Rafael Septien field goals, but Septien missed both attempts from 48 and 43 yards.

The Eagles took a first quarter lead when kicker Tony Franklin connected on a 50 yard field goal to go up 3-0. The Eagles added to their lead in the second quarter after receiver Ron Smith beat Cowboys cornerback Steve Wilson on a 42 yard pass from quarterback Ron Jaworski. The long pass setup the Eagles deep in Cowboys territory. From there Booker Russell scored from the one yard line to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead.

Things got worse after the Eagles touchdown when Tony Dorsett coughed up the first of his three fumbles in the game. The Eagles were in great shape at the Cowboys 41 yard line and looking to add to their lead. They got to the Cowboys 29 yard line when Jaworski attempted a pass to receiver Harold Carmichael. But Ron Smith got his hand in the way of the pass and it deflected into the hands of Cowboys cornerback Dennis Thurman, who would total three interceptions in the game.

Danny White once again led the Cowboys into Eagles territory. The Cowboys faced a 4th and 1 from the Eagles 44 yard line with 1:37 left in the first half. Coach Tom Landry decided to punt, which led to the turning point in the game. Danny White lofted a high punt to Eagles returner John Sciarra. With five Cowboys surrounding Sciarra he fumbled the punt. Cowboys Anthony Dickerson recovered the fumble and the Cowboys had great field possession at the Eagles 20 yard line.

The Cowboys got to the eight yard line and with 38 seconds left in the first half when Danny White found Tony Hill for the score. The Cowboys were finally on the scoreboard and went into the half down 10-7.

The Cowboys got the second half kickoff and drove 80 yards to take their first lead of the game. Danny White threw his second touchdown pass of the game when he found Butch Johnson on a 36 yard pass to put the Cowboys ahead, 14-10.

The Eagles offense could only manage 59 yards in the second half. The Cowboys defense collected five turnovers with four of them coming on Ron Jaworski interceptions. His last interception came on the one drive that the Eagles got into Cowboys territory. At the 14 yard line rookie cornerback Everson Walls collected his eleventh interception of the season.

After the Walls interception and with the Cowboys facing a 3rd and 9 from their own 15 yard line, Danny White connected with Butch Johnson for 47 yards. The Cowboys drove to the Eagles 12 yard line and then put an end to the game and to any doubt who the division winner would be. Ron Springs scored from the 12 yard line and the Cowboys won the game 21-10 and won the NFC East.

In the game the Cowboys offense gained 412 yards with Danny White throwing for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Even with Tony Dorsett fumbling three times in the game he still rushed for 101 yards.

The Cowboys went into the final game of the 1981 season with a 12-3 record. They could not collect their 13th win because they lost to the NY Giants at Giants Stadium 13-10 in OT. They finished the season 12-4 and lost out on home field advantage in the playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers.

The box score can be seen here.


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