It was déjà vu for the Chargers. Just as in 1980, "Air Coryell" had to win this game or sit out for the playoffs. San Diego seized the night, overcoming the Raiders 23-10 for their third straight AFC West crown. Once again, the Chargers were the only team to repeat as division champions.moreless
This was a battle of the backup QBs: Mark Malone for Pittsburgh, Marc Wilson for Oakland. One highlight for the Raiders' 30-27 win was Kenny King's 63-yard TD scamper.
Dallas began the 1981 season with fourteen rookies, but they started off the year with a veteran attitude and an expected winning streak. Fifth-year running back Tony Dorsett, the Cowboys' offensive captain, reeled off a 75-yard TD run as "America's Team" belittled the Pats 35-21.
The defending World Champion Raiders had an inconsistent 1981 season. Their best defense came in this Week 2 game. Eight times the Raiders sacked Viking QB Tommy Kramer. One such sack became a touchdown for defensive lineman Cedric Hartman. On offense, Todd Christensen was being used more as a tight end, catching one TD in Oakland's 36-10 blowout.moreless
Air Coryell and the Kardiac Kids could have met in the 1980 AFC Championship Game but didn't. Now, in the long-awaited showdown that launched the wild 1981 season, Cleveland's Kardiac Kids were nowhere to be found. Showing up for San Diego's offense was rookie RB James Brooks. His two touchdowns keynoted the 44-14 Charger triumph.moreless