1980sAdvertisements & commercialsBob CostasDick EnbergMerlin OlsenNFLNFL Hall of FameOakland RaidersPhiladelphia EaglesSuper Bowl XV

NFL – 1981 Super Bowl XV – Louisiana Superdome – Oakland Raiders VS Philadelphia Eagles – 1st Qtr


Super Bowl XV was an American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Oakland Raiders and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Philadelphia Eagles to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1980 season….as the Raiders defeated the Eagles by the score of 27–10….while becoming the first wild card playoff team to win a Super Bowl…..as the game was played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on January 25, 1981…which was played five days after the Iran hostage crisis ended…..as the game was thus held under patriotic fervor when the pregame ceremonies honored the end of the crisis.

The Raiders were making their third Super Bowl appearance after posting an 11–5 regular season record….but losing a tiebreaker to the AFC West division winner San Diego Chargers….after which the Oakland Raiders advanced to the Super Bowl with playoff victories over the Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns, and San Diego Chargers. The Eagles were making their first Super Bowl appearance after posting a 12–4 regular season record….with postseason victories over the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys.

The Raiders jumped out to a 14 – 0 lead in the first quarter after being aided by two touchdown passes from quarterback Jim Plunkett….to which the Eagles never recovered from.  Oakland linebacker Rod Martin also intercepted Philadelphia quarterback Ron Jaworski three times for a Super Bowl record….and Plunkett was named the Super Bowl MVP after completing 13 of 21 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns…..as Plunkett became the second Heisman Trophy winner to be named Super Bowl MVP after Roger Staubach won in Super Bowl VI….for Super Bowl XV was the climax of Plunkett’s revival as an NFL starting quarterback….after the 1970 Heisman Trophy winner was drafted by the New England Patriots and was later named the 1971 NFL Rookie of the Year….but Plunkett suffered through five losing seasons with the Patriots and two uneven seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before being released as a free agent before the 1978 season….and then was signed by Oakland to be their backup quarterback….resulting in Plunkett not seeing much playing time in throwing no passes in 1978 and just 15 passes in 1979….but after the Raiders had started the 1980 season with a 2–3 record when starter Dan Pastorini broke his leg….and suddenly Plunkett was thrust into the starting role. The 33-year-old Plunkett got off to a bad start by throwing 5 interceptions in a 31–17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after relieving Pastorini….however, he recovered and led the Raiders to victory in 9 of their last 11 games in the season….thus qualifying the Raiders for the playoffs as a wild card team. Plunkett made 165 out of 320 pass completions for 2,299 yards, 18 touchdown passes while being intercepted 15 times. He also contributed 141 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.

The Raiders’ main offensive deep threat was wide receiver Cliff Branch with 44 receptions, 858 yards, 7 touchdowns….while wide receiver Bob Chandler contributed 49 receptions for 786 yards and 10 touchdowns. Running back Mark van Eeghen was the team’s top rusher with 838 yards and 5 touchdowns while also catching 29 passes for 259 yards….and RB Kenny King rushed for 761 yards and catching 22 passes for 145 yards. The Raiders also had an outstanding offensive line that was led by two future Hall of Famers in tackle Art Shell and guard Gene Upshaw…..as Upshaw became the first player to play in three Super Bowls with the same team in three different decades….while playing in Super Bowls II (1967) and XI (1976).

Oakland had a punishing defense which was anchored by defensive ends John Matuszak and Howie Long….as DB Lester Hayes led the league in interceptions (13) and interception return yards (273)….while being named as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year….anchored by a trio of great linebackers in future Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks….Pro Bowler Rod Martin (3 Interceptions) ….and standout rookie Matt Millen….as the Raiders were led by head coach Tom Flores….who was the first minority coach to win a Super Bowl.

Under head coach Dick Vermeil….the Philadelphia Eagles advanced to their first ever Super Bowl in team history….and had not played in a league championship game since their 1960 NFL championship. The Eagles were led by quarterback Ron Jaworski, who completed 257 out of 451 passes for 3,529 yards during the regular season….including 27 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. Another key player on the Eagles offense was halfback Wilbert Montgomery….who was widely considered one of the top running backs in the NFL after having rushed for over 1,200 yards in each of the last two seasons….as Injuries during the 1980 regular season had limited him to just 778 yards….but he proved he was fully recovered in the postseason by rushing for 194 yards in the NFC title game. Montgomery was also a superb receiver out of the backfield….who recorded 50 receptions for 407 yards. The other main deep threats on offense was WR Harold Carmichael and WR Charlie Smith….along with tight end Keith Krepfle….who combined for 125 receptions, 2,090 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Eagles defense led the league in fewest points allowed during the regular season (222)….as nose tackle Charlie Johnson anchored the line and even managed to record 3 interceptions. Defensive end Claude Humphrey led the team in sacks with 14.5…..while LB Jerry Robinson and LB Bill Bergey excelled at both stopping the run and pass coverage. Philadelphia also had a fine secondary which was led by veteran defensive backs Herman Edwards (3 interceptions) and Brenard Wilson (6 interceptions)….along with rookie Roynell Young (4 interceptions). The Eagles’ defense was a major factor in their hard fought 10–7 victory over the Raiders in the regular season….in a game in which they they sacked Plunkett 8 times.  The Eagles advanced through the playoffs, defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 31–16, and the Dallas Cowboys, 20–7.

Meanwhile, Plunkett and the Raiders defeated the Houston Oilers 27–7, the Cleveland Browns 14–12 on a play known as Red Right 88….and the San Diego Chargers 34–27…..and in doing so….Oakland became the third wild card team to advance to the Super Bowl and the first wild card team to win three postseason rounds since the NFL expanded to a 10-team playoff format in 1978. DB Lester Hayes had a spectacular performance in the playoffs by adding 5 more interceptions to give him a total of 18 picks in 19 games.

With all ot this being said….this Super Bowl XV is of special importance to Imasportsphile and my Bone Daddy….for he was at this game “live and in color” during a three day “road trip from Austin” that provided a “magic carpet ride for the ages”…..as these stories will be featured in our L E’s Stories section in the very near future….so stay tuned.

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