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Remembering the Eagles & Cowboys NFC Championship Game 30 Years Later

The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys will renew their rivalry this Sunday in Dallas. The biggest game between these two teams took place in January of 1981 when they squared off in Philadelphia for NFC Championship and the right to play in Super Bowl XV.

1980 Season

The Eagles raced out to a 11-1 start in 1980, but then limped into the playoffs after losing 3 or their last 4, including a season finale at Dallas. They barely managed to beat out Dallas by tie-breaker criteria for the Division title.

The Cowboys weren’t expected to content for a title. Danny White took over at quarterback when Roger Staubach retired after the 1979 season and led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record.

NFC Championship Game

The game time temperature in Philadelphia was only 17 degrees. Weather was so bad in the Northeast the week leading up to the game that the Eagles actually traveled to Tampa, Florida  to prepare.

The Eagles also engaged in a bit of gamesmanship leading up to the contest by choosing to wear their white road jerseys at home. At the time, the Dallas dark blue jerseys were considered to be bad luck for the Cowboys.

Neither Quarterback faired very well on that day. Eagles QB Ron Jaworski was only 9-29 for 91 yards with 2 interceptions and Danny White wasn’t much better going 12 for 32 for 127 yards and 1 int.  The difference was in the running game. Wilbert Montgomery led the way with 194 rushing yards for Philadelphia, including a 42 yard scamper for a TD early in the game. Eagles Fullback Leroy Harris added another 60 yards and scored on a 9 yard run in the third quarter to make it 17-7 . The Eagles went on to win 20-7.

Below is a clip of Eagles running back Wilbert Montgomery racing 42 yards for a touchdown on the games second play.

Notable Personalities in the Game

The Cowboys were coached by the legendary Tom Landry, while the Eagles head coach was Dick Vermeil. As mentioned, Monday Night Football analyst Ron Jaworski was the Eagles starting Quarterback. In addition to Landry, Dallas also featured future NFL Hall of Famers RB Tony Dorsett and LB Randy White. The game was called by Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier. One year later, Summerall would be paired in the booth with John Madden.

Here’s a quick take on the game from

1980-1981 NFL Playoffs on Wikipedia.

You can own the DVD of this game as part the NFL’s Greatest Game Series. Check it out at

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