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On This Date in Sports January 11, 1981: Four for Philly

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Wilbert Montgomery carries the Philadelphia Eagles to their first Super Bowl as he rushes for 194 yards with one touchdown in a 20-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game at Veterans Stadium. The Eagles help the City of Philadelphia complete a magical year where all four teams played in the finals of their league, with the Phillies winning the World Series. The Eagles would lose Super Bowl XV mush like the Flyers lost the Stanley Cup Finals, and the 76ers lost the NBA Finals in 1980. 

It was a magical time for the City of Brotherly Love. In 1980, all four teams were in the championship of the four major professional sports. The Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the NBA Finals and the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals, while the Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Series beating the Kansas City Royals in six games.

While the Phillies made a magical late-season run to the Fall Classic, the Eagles coached by Dick Vermeil were off to a great start, winning 11 of their first 12 games. The lone blemish was a 24-14 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Week 4. The Eagles struggled down the stretch but managed to win their first division title in 20 years with a record of 12-4. In the Divisional Round, the Eagles overcame an early 14-0 deficit to beat the Minnesota Vikings 31-16 to reach their first NFC Championship Game.

The Dallas Cowboys, led by Tom Landry, reached the NFC Championship, looking to reach their sixth Super Bowl and third in four years. They finished the season with a 12-4 record but lost a tiebreak for the NFC East on point. In their first season, the Cowboys, after Roger Staubach retired, beat the Los Angeles Rams 34-12 in the Wild Card Game. A week later, they rallied to beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Divisional Round 29-17 to reach the NFC Championship Game. 

It was an icy day in Philadelphia as the game-time temperature was 12F. Hoping to jinx their division rivals, the Eagles wore white, making the Cowboys wear their dreaded blue uniforms. After the Cowboys failed to score on their first possession, the Eagles gave their frosty fans something to cheer about as Wilbert Montgomery scored on a 42-yard run. Montgomery carried the Eagles that day, rushing for 194 yards. The same could not be said for Ron Jaworski, who struggled, completing just nine of 29 passes for 91 yards with two interceptions. 

In the second quarter, Dallas answered the Eagles early score with a three-yard touchdown run by Tony Dorsett. The score at the half was 7-7, but Philadelphia was outplaying the Cowboys, having blown a pair of scoring chances as a touchdown buy Harold Carmichael was wiped out by a penalty, while Tony Franklin missed a field goal. 

In the third quarter, the Eagles regained the lead as Carl Hairston had a strip-sack of Danny White, which set up Franklin for a short 26-yard field goal to make it 10-7. The Cowboys were driving to answer the score when Jerry Robinson picked up a Dorsett fumble and returned into Dallas territory. Philadelphia capitalized on the Dallas turnover as Leroy Harris completed a 40-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 17-7 lead.  

Wilbert Montgomery continued to run over the Dallas defense in the fourth quarter, highlighted by a 55-yard run. The run would not lead to points as Jaworski was intercepted by Aaron Mitchell. The Cowboys were unable to move the ball as the Eagles extended the lead to 20-7 on a 20-yard field goal by Tony Franklin. Montgomery had 208 yards from scrimmage, more than the Cowboys had as a team with 206 yards, as the Eagles defense forced four turnovers. The Eagles would lose Super Bowl XV to the Oakland Raiders 27-10 in New Orleans.