Eagles in 1981

Eagles in 1981

Postby LeonardRachiele » Fri Mar 17, 2023 6:08 pm

Thirty years after leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl, Dick Vermeil remains a Philadelphia Icon.  He brought energy and enthusiasm to a team that had been a loser for almost 20 years.  Vermeil's can do attitude was a major part of his success.  Unfortunately this did not come close to a dynasty.  The Eagles and Vermeil were burned at mid season the following year.   That four game losing streak brought the Eagles from 9-2 to 9-6.  A 38 to 0 victory at Veterans Stadium over the St. Louis Cardinals in the final game gave hope that the team would  return to form.  It didn't. Philadelphia, at the Vet,  lost to the New York Giants 27 to 21 in the Wild Card Game.  This was their second home loss to the Giants within a month.  The Eagles would do likewise to the New York Giants in 2008.

As I look back at that 10-6 team, three of those six losses should have been victories-17 to 14 vs Dallas at the Vet and road loses, 13 to 10 to Miami and 15 to 13 to Washington.  A Philadelphia team, without the burnout, would have been 13-3.  Nevertheless Philadelphia did steadily improve with Dick Vermeil until 1980, which I will talk about later.
One of the big things in Philadelphia was Steak House Restaurants, which were unique to the city.  Arthur's at 15th and Walnut was to me the best.  Mitchell's and Frankie Bradley's were like two Siamese twins on Juniper Street between Walnut and Locust. Finally, the Scott Moss at 18th and JFK Boulevard.  This last fixture was in its day slightly off the beaten track. No so today with the tremendous building in Penn Center.  Now all steak style places are national chains.
The other places long gone-Littons at 22nd and Spring Garden and other in a junky section off of I-95; Horn and Hardat's Automated Cafeteria; and Dewey's, which was good for coffee and juice only.  It seems to me there were White Tower Restaurants but I am not certain.
Ortlieb's Beer was a long time brewery in Philadelphia until Schmidt's bought it out in 1978.   It was slightly sweet but han overall good taste.   This was strictly a beer for local distributors and neighborhood taverns.  Ortlieb's did only bill board advertising staying away from radio and television.  With one exception it was never in the Center City.  The Adelphia Hotel at 13th and Chestnut carried it at its bar and restaurant, dubbed the Adelphia Tavern.  I went there often until it closed in 1974.  More on the Adelphia later.
Another product of the seventies was  Champale.   Advertised as the working man's champagne, it was only slightly more expensive than beer.  I served to guests long ago and one asked me "Do you mind if I throw this out?" I liked it but know  of only two places that had served it over the bar.   The Plaza Hotel in Harrisburg-this was a flophouse that was once great. Long since demolished.  The Broadvine in Philadelphia-northwest corner of Broad and Vine, as you might expect.    
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Re: Eagles in 1981

Postby 74_75_78_79_ » Sat Mar 18, 2023 6:29 pm

The first half of that season was the Eagles' last breath of greatness under Vermeil.

Revisiting that 6-0 start of theirs (more like, properly visiting it - period), I see that not only were there ELEVEN teams at 4-2 after that week was in the books (didn't know there was that many), but whereas I thought for the longest time that 4-2 was the next-best record in the league shared by numerous teams (Eagles a full two games ahead of everyone), I see that Denver (Reeves' first year) were actually at 5-1! And, if course, they already swept the defending-World Champs along with beating SB-anticipant, San Diego, by 18! And then you got Shula's Dolphins, back to winning ways, actually coming off their first loss of the year at Buffalo on MNF, dropping them to 4-1-1 (tie vs Jets)!

It's not a reason at all for the MNF halftime highlights to have snubbed San Fran (beating Dallas decisively a huge deal), but just a little (a little) bit understandable with ten other 4-2s along with a 5-1 Broncos team who, again, swept the Champs and beat SD convincingly along with a one-tie Don Shula team who still, at halftime, had yet to lose that first game of the year.

San Fran was a very new face! They did start 3-0 the previous season, only to crumble all the way down to a 6-10 finish. And that all-in-vain 6-1 start in '76 had to still be fresh enough for many. And of the ten other 4-2 teams, six of them were in the playoffs the previous season; and two of those that didn't make the playoffs in 1980? They each hosted their respective conference championship games in '79. And as for the 5-1 and 4-1-1 teams mentioned? Both of them didn't make the playoffs the year before either, but posted winning seasons each year from '77-thru-'79. So not exactly an unfamiliar face themselves; especially one of their coaches being...Don Shula.

The Champs-to-be still needed to make a name for themselves, apparently. Not totally sure if I would have placed the Forty Niners at '#2' in a weekly Power Rankings following Week #6. Maybe, maybe not. But I sure would've had them right up there! And I definitely would have at least given them proper mention if I was working for ABC producing that week's "halftime highlights". But I guess the masses then simply needed to "see more" from them. Beating "America's Team", 45-14, so weird it "had" to be a fluke, I guess.

Now as for who the #1 team would have been had ESPN actually did weekly PRs back in '81...yes, no question, the 6-0 Birds would have gotten the nod! Defending-NFC-champs so looking like a team returning to the Super Bowl; and doing so with a vengeance! They beat Buffalo at Rich on Thursday Night to make it 3-0 for them! And then two weeks later they beat last year's NFC top-seed, 3-1 Atlanta, at the Vet on MNF! Looking good (and no more Bergey, mind you)! And meanwhile in Oakland...the very team who denied the favored Eagles that Lombardi last January were now 2-4 and not only on a three-game skid, but each of the three-straight defeats...a shutout!! Not looking good!

One of those ten 4-2 teams going into Wk#7, who also were in the '80 playoffs, were on a four-game win-streak after starting 0-2; that second defeat being a 36-10 convincer at home on MNF to the soon-to-struggle-hard Raiders themselves! Yes, Bud Grant's Vikings were on a four-game win-streak! And just came off a big victory at the Murph over the 4-1 Chargers! Like the more-remembered game that week between Dal & SF, both teams would be at 4-2 afterwards. The game is more remembered despite it being a blowout whereas the Min/SD was very competitive - in the category of "underrated Classic".

Just the same, it'd be the unbeaten EAGLES entering the Met to try keeping it that way! But Tommy Kramer had other ideas in putting up a 4-TD/0-INT performance! Yes, Ted Brown played great as well! The 35-23 final not only posted the Eagles their first loss of '81, but it'd be the only time Swamp Fox's D (#1 in both yards & points) would give up 30-or-more points that campaign. And just three other games that they gave up in the 20s; one of those being that Wild Card game.

Okay, so the Eagles were due for their very first loss. They handle NFC Central champ-to-be, Tampa Bay, the following week to make it 7-1 as Dallas in their game afterward came so very close to falling to 5-3 vs Miami! But the recent comebacks-under-White tradition continued with a Dallas 28-27 squeaker to place them, instead, at 6-2 going into next week's...NFC Championship Game rematch at the Vet...

The 1PM EST time-slot that very week featured the only-ever Montana-vs-Bradshaw showdown at Three Rivers! The 6-2 Champs-to-be prove yet again that '45-14' three weeks prior is no fluke with yet another win vs yesterdecade's team who did go into the game winning 5 of their last 6! Final score, 17-14.

And now off to this week's Main Event in the following 4PM EST timeslot...6-2 Cowboys at 7-1 Eagles! NFCCG Rematch!! And those defending-NFC-champs, despite #31 and the run-game struggling, sure looked like they were going to replicate 1/11/81! With help of a Dorsett fumble near the goal-line just before the half, Eagles were indeed up, 14-3, to end the 3rd Q! But yet more comeback-tradition-now-under-White came into play. Big D pulls it off! Final score...(also)...17-14. Why didn't the Eagles play in their white jerseys again? Ego, perhaps ("oh, let's now prove we can beat them in our greens")? At the risk of sounding silly...maybe it would have made the difference!

I was just in 5th grade, but I already knew right there and then that Big D was going to take back the NFC East in '81! Yes, just one close loss, but I simply just KNEW already! Both were now tied at 7-2 when it easily could have been Philly 8-1 and Dallas 5-4 had Miami just held on the week prior. Any chance you have to go up a couple on Dallas...yes, when a wise-ass neighbor who was a Cowboys-fan called me right after the game and said they were going to beat the Eagles a second time weeks later, I argued back, but deep-down I believed. And this without possibly anticipating a four-game-skid to come weeks later!

Though Philly went on to rout both the Cardinals in StL and then Colts at home the following two weeks by a combined score of 90-23 to make it 9-2, and that very 9-2 mark placing them alone at the top of the entire league thanks to Dal & SF losing to both Det & Clev respectively...I still didn't see the Eagles as better than either anymore. And, again, this is even if I didn't at all anticipate the four-game-skid to come which - indeed - DID happen (Dallas concluding it by completing the sweep)!

Even if Philly averts that Dallas-comeback on Wk#9, I think Cowboys still win the East/2nd-seed anyway. That four-game skid, sadly, was still going to happen. Eagles were yet another year older and even going back to the year before when they backed into their 12-4 division title after starting 11-1, they were now basically a George Allen Washington team - great players, but no spring chickens; worked real hard, burned-out by season's end. If the Eagles do beat Big D at the Vet in Wk#9, and all else still plays out through Wk#15? That'll then make it Dallas at 11-4 and the Birds at 10-5. Not being 'stuck' at 2nd-seed in this particular situation, Big D would now have to beat the 8-7 Giants at the Meadowlands that Saturday! They lose to Giants and Eagles beat Cards the next day (both 11-5, 5-3 in their division), Birds get the tie-breaker due to what would have been a better conference record (8-4 to 7-5). Even in their blue jerseys, I think the 'Boys send Perkins and rookie, LT, (and Scott Brunner) home for the playoffs thus win that division title/2nd-seed at 12-4 after all.

And whoever the Eagles' opponent would have actually been in the WCG in such a situation, and even if we would have gotten to see that Vermeil/Walsh showdown in the divisional round, 'the Catch' of course still takes place, and the following year - whether a full or the stirke-shortened season it was - the "burnout" still continues in the name of close-losses-galore thus ushering Vermeil into that 15-year hiatus.

#1 defense in yards and also points (and, again, no more Bergey)! Swamp Fox simply needs more due for his work as a DC! Maybe Buddy should still get more attention in or outside of Philly; but exactly by how much? And Montgomery had a far greater campaign in '81 than he did the (Super Bowl) year prior! Only '79 was a better year for him overall-yardage-wise, but he played in one less game in '81; and his Y/A of 4.9 in '81 is a career-best.

Pretty nice going down 'memory lane' in experiencing my 2nd-season following. Like I said umpteen times, '80 and then '81 are my two favorite seasons since I started following during that very, well-esteemed, 1980 season. This, yet again, despite a certain Dynasty now obviously being over, and me really wanting the Eagles to win in '80 once the Steelers were out as well as really wanting them to go back to the SB and redeem once the Steelers were out as well! Yes, the more I think of it (and with the help of you all in here), the more glad I am - and feel its fair - that Vermeil made Canton! A great argument that he may be the best one-time champ ever. Maybe even better than Madden. So glad he (deservingly) got enshrined!

PS - I don't think it's a case of me ever "forgetting". But I don't think I ever even consciously ever was aware that Denver actually was...5-1 in '81! Maybe one of the 4-2 teams (and I never imagined there was...11 of them), but not actually starting at 5-1! I do remember the Oakland-sweep, however (and me and a 5th grade classmate talking of how Oakland actually "stinks" now).

Learn something new everyday. So where in the 'Power Rankings' - and with a clear, fair mind not knowing what actually does happen - do you place Denver after Week #6? Do you place Reeves' bunch at #2? Or Don Shula's 4-1-1 Dolphins there instead? Or...that very team that just walloped Dallas, 45-14?? Or, maybe, someone else?

The entire list of those 4-2 teams, btw...Bills, Bengals, Oilers, Steelers, Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Vikings, Forty Niners, and Rams (who just beat 3-2 Atl)
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