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The 1981 New York Giants season was the franchise's 57th season in the National Football League. The Giants qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 18 years with a 9–7 record,[1] which placed them third in the National Football Conference East Division.[2] The Giants qualified for the postseason thanks to an overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the last game of the season, coupled with a loss by the Green Bay Packers.[3] In the Wild Card playoffs, the Giants defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27–21 in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium. New York's season ended with a 38–24 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round.[2]

1981 New York Giants season
Head coachRay Perkins
General managerGeorge Young
OwnerTimothy J. Mara
Wellington Mara
Home fieldGiants Stadium
Results
Record9–7
Division place3rd NFC East
Playoff finishWon Wild Card Playoffs (Eagles) 27–21
Lost Divisional Playoffs (49ers) 38–24
Pro BowlersLB Lawrence Taylor
LB Harry Carson

Contents

OffseasonEdit

NFL DraftEdit

1981 New York Giants draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 2 Lawrence Taylor *   LB North Carolina
2 32 Dave Young  TE Purdue
      Made roster    †   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

PersonnelEdit

StaffEdit

1981 New York Giants staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Bill Belichick


RosterEdit

1981 New York Giants roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists


Practice squad



Rookies in italics

ScheduleEdit

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 6, 1981 Philadelphia Eagles L 10–24
72,459
2 September 13, 1981 at Washington Redskins W 17–7
53,343
3 September 20, 1981 New Orleans Saints W 20–7
69,814
4 September 27, 1981 at Dallas Cowboys L 10–18
63,449
5 October 4, 1981 Green Bay Packers L 14–27
73,684
6 October 11, 1981 St. Louis Cardinals W 34–14
67,128
7 October 18, 1981 at Seattle Seahawks W 32–0
56,134
8 October 25, 1981 at Atlanta Falcons W 27–24
48,410
9 November 1, 1981 New York Jets L 7–26
74,740
10 November 8, 1981 at Green Bay Packers L 24–26
54,138
11 November 15, 1981 Washington Redskins L 27–30
63,133
12 November 22, 1981 at Philadelphia Eagles W 20–10
66,827
13 November 29, 1981 at San Francisco 49ers L 10–17
57,186
14 December 6, 1981 Los Angeles Rams W 10–7
59,659
15 December 13, 1981 at St. Louis Cardinals W 20–10
47,358
16 December 19, 1981 Dallas Cowboys W 13–10
73,009

Game summariesEdit

Week 12Edit

1 234Total
• Giants 3 7010 20
Eagles 7 300 10

[4]


Week 13Edit

1 234Total
Giants 0 307 10
• 49ers 7 703 17

[5]


Week 14Edit

1 234Total
Rams 7 000 7
Giants 0 073 10

[6]


Week 15Edit

1 234Total
• Giants 7 373 20
Cardinals 3 007 10

[7]


Week 16Edit

1 234OTTotal
Cowboys 0 00100 10
Giants 0 0733 13

Heading into their last regular season game, the Giants needed a win over the Dallas Cowboys to remain in postseason contention.[9] Dallas, the NFC East champions, required a victory against New York, along with a loss by the San Francisco 49ers, to clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.[10] Neither team scored in the first half;[8] Giants kicker Joe Danelo missed two field goal attempts from inside 30 yards in the first quarter.[11] The Giants opened the scoring during their second possession of the second half, as Scott Brunner completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Tom Mullady. On the final play of the third quarter, Dallas wide receiver Tony Hill caught a 44-yard pass from Danny White; three plays later, White threw a touchdown pass to Doug Cosbie, which allowed the Cowboys to tie the game, 7–7.[12] On the Giants' next drive, Brunner threw an interception to Michael Downs; after taking possession in Giants territory, the Cowboys went in front on a 36-yard field goal by Rafael Septién.[13]

Dallas held a three-point lead into the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, when a Tony Dorsett fumble gave the Giants the ball at the Cowboys' 45-yard-line. Inside the final minute, Danelo attempted a game-tying field goal from 40 yards. His kick was good, and the game was forced into overtime.[14] The Giants had the first possession of overtime after winning the coin toss, but were forced to punt. On the Cowboys' second play of their first overtime drive, Dorsett was unable to field a pitch by White; Lawrence Taylor recovered the fumble and the Giants gained possession at the Dallas 40-yard-line.[15] Danelo's ensuing 33-yard field goal attempt was unsuccessful, hitting an upright. The Giants then forced another Cowboys turnover, as White was intercepted by Byron Hunt, who returned the ball to the Dallas 24-yard-line.[14] Danelo was called on again, and his 35-yard field goal clinched a 13–10 victory for the Giants.[14] The following day, the New York Jets defeated the Green Bay Packers, giving the Giants their first playoff berth since 1963.[3]

PlayoffsEdit

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
Wildcard December 27, 1981 at Philadelphia Eagles W 27–21
71,611
Divisional January 3, 1982 at San Francisco 49ers L 24–38
58,360

StandingsEdit

NFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Dallas Cowboys(2) 12 4 0 .750 6–2 8–4 367 277 L1
Philadelphia Eagles(4) 10 6 0 .625 4–4 7–5 368 221 W1
New York Giants(5) 9 7 0 .563 5–3 8–6 295 257 W3
Washington Redskins 8 8 0 .500 3–5 6–6 347 349 W3
St. Louis Cardinals 7 9 0 .438 2–6 4–8 315 408 L2

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "New York Giants Franchise Encyclopedia". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "1981 New York Giants". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Whittingham, Richard (2005). Illustrated History of the New York Giants. Chicago: Triumph Books. pp. 195–196. ISBN 978-1-57243-641-1.
  4. ^ "New York Giants 20 at Philadelphia Eagles 10". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  5. ^ "New York Giants 10 at San Francisco 49ers 17". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "Los Angeles Rams 7 at New York Giants 10". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
  7. ^ "New York Giants 20 at St. Louis Cardinals 10". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Dallas Cowboys 10 at New York Giants 13". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Whittingham, p. 195.
  10. ^ Baker, Jim; Corbett, Bernard M. (2010). The Most Memorable Games in Giants History: The Oral History of a Legendary Team. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-60819-074-4.
  11. ^ Gola, Hank (December 31, 2011). "Joe Danelo recalls '81 NY Giants, Dallas Cowboys match as a day filled with emotions". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  12. ^ Baker and Corbett, p. 197.
  13. ^ Baker and Corbett, pp. 197–198.
  14. ^ a b c Litsky, Frank (December 20, 1981). "Giants Win In Overtime; Playoff Spot On Line Today". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  15. ^ Baker and Corbett, p. 199.