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The 1981 San Diego Chargers season was the franchise's 12th season in the National Football League (NFL) and its 22nd overall. The team failed to improve on their 11–5 record from 1980 and finished 10-6. In the playoffs, they beat the Dolphins in a game known as the Epic in Miami and lost to the Bengals in a game known as the Freezer Bowl.

1981 San Diego Chargers season
Head coachDon Coryell
(4th season)
General managerJohnny Sanders
(Since 1976)
OwnerEugene V. Klein
(Since 1966)
Home fieldJack Murphy Stadium
Results
Record10–6
Division place1st AFC West
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs (Dolphins) (41–38 OT)
Lost AFC Championship (Bengals) (7–27)
Pro Bowlers
AP All-Pros
Chargers' quarterback back Dan Fouts (middle) runs a play against the Dolphins in the AFC Divisional Playoff game "Epic in Miami".

1981 was the second straight season in which the Chargers reached the AFC Championship Game,[3] as well as their second consecutive loss.

Running back Chuck Muncie enjoyed his best season, running for 1,144 yards and 19 touchdowns, tying the then-NFL season record for rushing touchdowns.[4][5]

During this season, the Chargers lost two key players by way of trade. Before Week 3, wide receiver John Jefferson was dealt to the Green Bay Packers, while defensive end Fred Dean would be dealt to the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers by Week 5. The season was chronicled on September 18, 2008 for America's Game: The Missing Rings, as one of the five greatest NFL teams to never win the Super Bowl.

Contents

1981 NFL DraftEdit

1981 San Diego Chargers draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 24 James Brooks *  RB Auburn
3 77 Irvin Phillips  CB Arkansas Tech
4 107 Eric Sievers  TE Maryland
5 131 Keith Ferguson  LB Ohio State
6 141 Andrew Gissinger  OT Syracuse
6 162 Bobby Duckworth  WR Arkansas
7 189 Pete Holohan  TE Notre Dame
      Made roster    †   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

PersonnelEdit

StaffEdit

1981 San Diego Chargers staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

  • Offensive Coordinator – Larrye Weaver
Defensive coaches



[6]

RosterEdit

1981 San Diego Chargers final roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists


Practice squad



Rookies in italics
53 Active, 5 Inactive, 5 Practice squad

ScheduleEdit

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 7, 1981 at Cleveland Browns W 44–14
78,904
2 September 13, 1981 Detroit Lions W 28–23
51,264
3 September 20, 1981 at Kansas City Chiefs W 42–31
63,866
4 September 27, 1981 at Denver Broncos L 42–24
74,822
5 October 4, 1981 Seattle Seahawks W 24–10
51,463
6 October 11, 1981 Minnesota Vikings L 33–31
50,708
7 October 18, 1981 at Baltimore Colts W 43–14
41,921
8 October 25, 1981 at Chicago Bears L 20–17
52,906
9 November 1, 1981 Kansas City Chiefs W 22–20
51,307
10 November 8, 1981 Cincinnati Bengals L 40–17
51,259
11 November 16, 1981 at Seattle Seahawks L 44–23
58,628
12 November 22, 1981 at Oakland Raiders W 55–21
50,199
13 November 29, 1981 Denver Broncos W 34–17
51,533
14 December 6, 1981 Buffalo Bills L 28–27
51,488
15 December 13, 1981 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 24–23
67,388
16 December 21, 1981 Oakland Raiders W 23–10
52,279

Game summariesEdit

Week 1: at Cleveland BrownsEdit

1 234Total
• Chargers 10 101410 44
Browns 0 770 14

[7]

Week 2 vs. Detroit LionsEdit

1 234Total
Lions 3 01010 23
• Chargers 7 0714 28

[8]

Week 3: at Kansas City ChiefsEdit

Week 4 at BroncosEdit

Week Four: San Diego Chargers (3–0) at Denver Broncos (2–1)
1 2 34Total
Chargers 0 0 101424
Broncos 21 7 7742

at Mile High StadiumDenver, Colorado

  • Date: September 27
  • Game time: 4:00 p.m. EDT
  • Game weather: 63 °F (17 °C) • Wind 7 miles per hour (11 km/h; 6.1 kn)
  • Game attendance: 74,822
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com

Week 5: vs. Seattle SeahawksEdit

Week 6: vs. Minnesota VikingsEdit

Week 7: at Baltimore ColtsEdit

Week 8: at Chicago BearsEdit

Week 9: vs. Kansas City ChiefsEdit

Week 10: vs. Cincinnati BengalsEdit

Week 11: at Seattle SeahawksEdit

Week 12: at Oakland RaidersEdit

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
1 234Total
Chargers 7 21207 55
Raiders 7 1400 21

Stats

  • Dan Fouts 28/44, 296 Yds, 6 TD, INT
  • Kellen Winslow 13 Rec, 144 Yds, 5 TD

Week 13: vs. Denver BroncosEdit

Week 14: vs. Buffalo BillsEdit

Buffalo Bills at San Diego Chargers
1 234Total
Bills 7 7140 28
Chargers 7 1433 27

Stats

  • Dan Fouts 28/42, 343 Yds, 2 TD, INT
  • Chuck Munci 22 Rush, 113 Rush Yds, 1 Rush TD
  • Kellen Winslow 6 Rec, 126 Yds, 1 TD
  • Joe Ferguson 13/29, 248 Yds, 4 Rush Yds, 1 Rush TD
  • Roosevelt Leaks 8 Rush, 28 Rush Yds, 2 Rush TDs
  • Frank Lewis 5 Rec, 113 Yds

Week 15: at Tampa Bay BuccaneersEdit

The game came down to the wire. A late interception from Buccaneers Quarterback Doug Williams at the Chargers own 1 yard-line sealed the deal for San Diego

Week 16: vs. Oakland RaidersEdit

Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
1 234Total
Raiders 0 370 10
Chargers 7 1033 23

Last regular season game of NFL season.

PlayoffsEdit

Week Date Opponent Result Attendance Nickname
Divisional January 2, 1982 at Miami Dolphins W 41–38
73,735
"The Epic in Miami"
Conference Championship January 10, 1982 at Cincinnati Bengals L 27–7
46,302
"The Freezer Bowl"

The AFC Championship Game was played on Jan. 10, 1982, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The temperature was -9 °F with a wind chill of -59 °F, known in NFL lore as the "Freezer Bowl," and is the coldest game in the league's history. Quarterback Dan Fouts completed 15 out of 28 passes for 185 yards as the Chargers fell to the Bengals 27-7.[9]

Game SummariesEdit

AFC Divisional Playoff: San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins
1 2 34OTTotal
Chargers 24 0 77341
Dolphins 0 17 147038

at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

Game information

StandingsEdit

AFC West
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
San Diego Chargers(3) 10 6 0 .625 6–2 8–4 478 390 W2
Denver Broncos 10 6 0 .625 5–3 7–5 321 289 L1
Kansas City Chiefs 9 7 0 .563 5–3 7–5 343 290 W1
Oakland Raiders 7 9 0 .438 2–6 5–7 273 343 L2
Seattle Seahawks 6 10 0 .375 2–6 6–8 322 388 W1

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "1981 NFL Pro Bowlers". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  2. ^ "1981 NFL All-Pros". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  3. ^ The Chargers lost to the Raiders the season before
  4. ^ "Chuck Muncie dies at age 60". ESPN.com. May 14, 2013. Archived from the original on May 16, 2013.
  5. ^ "AFC West". Sports Illustrated. September 1, 1982. Archived from the original on September 13, 2011. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  6. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Oct-20.
  7. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Oct-20.
  8. ^ Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 2014-Oct-20.
  9. ^ To the NFL: You Sure Started Somethin': A Historical Guide of All 32 NFL Teams and the Cities They've Played In, R. D. Griffith, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.: Dorrance Pub. Co., 2012.

External linksEdit