1981 New York Giants season
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, which placed them third in the National Football Conference East Division. 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. 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.
|1981 New York Giants season|
|Head coach||Ray Perkins|
|General manager||George Young|
|Owner||Timothy J. Mara|
|Home field||Giants Stadium|
|Division place||3rd NFC East|
|Playoff finish||Won Wild Card Playoffs (Eagles) 27–21|
Lost Divisional Playoffs (49ers) 38–24
|Pro Bowlers||LB Lawrence Taylor|
LB Harry Carson
|1981 New York Giants draft|
|1||2||Lawrence Taylor * †||LB||North Carolina|
|Pro Football Hall of Fame Made at least one Pro Bowl during careerMade roster|
|1981 New York Giants staff|
Special teams coaches
|1981 New York Giants roster|
|1||September 6, 1981||Philadelphia Eagles||L 10–24|
|2||September 13, 1981||at Washington Redskins||W 17–7|
|3||September 20, 1981||New Orleans Saints||W 20–7|
|4||September 27, 1981||at Dallas Cowboys||L 10–18|
|5||October 4, 1981||Green Bay Packers||L 14–27|
|6||October 11, 1981||St. Louis Cardinals||W 34–14|
|7||October 18, 1981||at Seattle Seahawks||W 32–0|
|8||October 25, 1981||at Atlanta Falcons||W 27–24|
|9||November 1, 1981||New York Jets||L 7–26|
|10||November 8, 1981||at Green Bay Packers||L 24–26|
|11||November 15, 1981||Washington Redskins||L 27–30|
|12||November 22, 1981||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 20–10|
|13||November 29, 1981||at San Francisco 49ers||L 10–17|
|14||December 6, 1981||Los Angeles Rams||W 10–7|
|15||December 13, 1981||at St. Louis Cardinals||W 20–10|
|16||December 19, 1981||Dallas Cowboys||W 13–10|
Heading into their last regular season game, the Giants needed a win over the Dallas Cowboys to remain in postseason contention. 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. Neither team scored in the first half; Giants kicker Joe Danelo missed two field goal attempts from inside 30 yards in the first quarter. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. Danelo was called on again, and his 35-yard field goal clinched a 13–10 victory for the Giants. The following day, the New York Jets defeated the Green Bay Packers, giving the Giants their first playoff berth since 1963.
|Wildcard||December 27, 1981||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 27–21|
|Divisional||January 3, 1982||at San Francisco 49ers||L 24–38|
|New York Giants(5)||9||7||0||.563||5–3||8–6||295||257||W3|
|St. Louis Cardinals||7||9||0||.438||2–6||4–8||315||408||L2|
- "New York Giants Franchise Encyclopedia". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- "1981 New York Giants". Pro Football Reference. Archived from the original on 14 April 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- Whittingham, Richard (2005). Illustrated History of the New York Giants. Chicago: Triumph Books. pp. 195–196. ISBN 978-1-57243-641-1.
- "New York Giants 20 at Philadelphia Eagles 10". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
- "New York Giants 10 at San Francisco 49ers 17". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
- "Los Angeles Rams 7 at New York Giants 10". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved June 27, 2015.
- "New York Giants 20 at St. Louis Cardinals 10". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- "Dallas Cowboys 10 at New York Giants 13". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved July 21, 2013.
- Whittingham, p. 195.
- 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.
- 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.
- Baker and Corbett, p. 197.
- Baker and Corbett, pp. 197–198.
- Litsky, Frank (December 20, 1981). "Giants Win In Overtime; Playoff Spot On Line Today". The New York Times. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
- Baker and Corbett, p. 199.