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1981 - Super Bowl XV - Oakland Raiders vs Philadelphia Eagles

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Oakland Raiders 27
Philadelphia Eagles 10

January 25, 1981

Super Bowl XV was played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tom Flores' AFC champion Oakland Raiders (15-5) faced Dick Vermeil's NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles (14-5).

The former coach of the PAC 10 champion UCLA Bruins, Vermeil became the coach of the struggling Philadelphia Eagles in 1976. He rebuilt the Eagles to lead them to their first championship game since their 1960 NFL title.

Quarterback Jim Plunkett resurrected his NFL career after joining the Raiders as a reserve in 1978. The 1970 Heisman Trophy winner and the 1971 NFL rookie of the year, Plunkett struggled through losing seasons with the Patriots and 49ers. Plunkett replaced the injured starter in the sixth game of the 1980 season, winning 9 of 11 games. Oakland qualified as a wild card team.

Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski's first pass was intercepted by linebacker Rod Martin. He returned it 17 yards to the Eagles 30. Plunkett threw a two-yard touchdown to receiver Cliff Branch to put Oakland ahead 7-0.

As the quarter ended, Plunkett hit running back Kenny King near the sideline. King ran 80 yards for a second touchdown.

In the second quarter, kicker Tony Franklin put Philadelphia on the board with a 30-yard field goal. The Raiders led 14-3 at half-time.

At the start of the second half, Plunkett threw a 29-yard bomb to Branch, extending the Raiders lead to 21-3.

An Eagles drive ended when Jaworski was intercepted, and the Raider completed a 46-yard field goal.

Early in the fourth quarter, Philadelphia scored on an eight-yard touchdown strike by Jaworski to come to within 24-10. But on their next possession, the Raiders kicked a final field goal to become the first wild card team to win a Super Bowl.

Plunkett was Super Bowl XV's MVP, completing 13 of 21 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. He was the second Heisman Trophy winner named MVP after Roger Staubach. His 80-yard touchdown pass to King was a Super Bowl record. Rod Martin's three interceptions set a Super Bowl record also.

Around the World on January 25:

  • Four cabinet ministers issued the Limehouse Declaration, forming Britain’s Social Democratic Party.
  • Chiang Ching ('Madame Mao') was sentenced to death by the People's Republic of China.

Around the NFL in 1981:

  • February 26 - Edgar F. Kaiser, Jr. bought the Denver Broncos from Gerald and Allan Phipps.
  • March 20 - League owners adopted a disaster plan for re-manning a team involved in a fatal accident.
  • June 3 - Super Bowl XVIII was awarded to Tampa.
  • A CBS-New York Times poll indicated 48% of sports fans favored football to 31% for baseball.
  • August - NFL teams hosted reps from black colleges during training camps. The program was adopted for renewal.
  • December - NFL regular-season attendance of 13.6 million set a record for the fourth straight year. ABC and CBS set all-time rating highs, while NBC dropped slightly.

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