January 25, 1981
Oakland Raiders 27
Philadelphia Eagles 10
Super Bowl XV was the pinnacle of Jim Plunkett’s comeback. The 1970 Heisman Trophy winner was drafted by the New England Patriots and was the 1971 NFL Rookie of the Year. However, he had 5 losing seasons with the Patriots, and 2 unimpressive seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He was picked up as a free agent by the Oakland Raiders in 1978 to be the backup quarterback to Dan Pastorini. The Raiders started the 1980 season with a 2-3 record, starter Dan Pastorini broke his leg and suddenly Plunkett was thrust into the starting role. Plunkett got off to a bad start, throwing 5 interceptions in a 31-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs after relieving Pastorini. However, he recovered and led the Raiders to victory in 9 of their last 11 games in the season, qualifying for the playoffs as a wild card team. The Raiders defeated the Houston Oilers, 27–7, the Cleveland Browns 14–12, and the San Diego Chargers, 34–27. In doing so, Oakland became the third wild card team to advance to the Super Bowl, and the first wild card team to win three postseason rounds since the NFL expanded to a 10-team playoff format in 1978.
Under Head Coach Dick Vermeil, Philadelphia advanced to their first ever Super Bowl in team history, and had not played in a league championship game since their 1960 NFL championship. The Eagles were led by quarterback Ron Jaworski, who completed 257 out of 451 passes for 3,529 yards during the regular season, including 27 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions. Another key player on the Eagles offense was halfback Wilbert Montgomery, who was widely considered one of the top running backs in the NFL and had rushed for over 1,200 rushing yards in the last 2 seasons.
The Eagles actually beat the Raiders 10-7 during the regular season, in Philadelphia as they sacked Plunkett 8 times.
The Eagles advanced through the playoffs, defeating the Minnesota Vikings, 31-16, and the Dallas Cowboys, 20–7.
Oakland linebacker Rod Martin intercepted Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski’s first pass of the game and returned it 17 yards to Philadelphia’s 30-yard line, setting up Jim Plunkett’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Cliff Branch 7 plays later. Oakland scored once again in the first quarter to jump to a 14-0 lead – from which Philadelphia would never recover. The score was 14-3 at halftime. The Raiders scored on the first drive of the second half to a 21-3 lead.
After another field goal, and the Raiders up 24-3, the Eagles finally managed to score a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to cut their deficit to 24–10. Oakland came back with another field goal, to go up 27-10. Oakland’s defense then dominated the rest the game, forcing two turnovers on Philadelphia’s last 2 possessions of the game to prevent any chance of a comeback. The Raiders went on to become the first wild card team to win a Super Bowl.