In real time, the 1981 NFL season was best remembered for two teams who came out of nowhere to participate in Super Bowl XVI at the Pontiac Silverdome.
The San Francisco 49ers would beat the Cincinnati Bengals 26-21. For the 49ers it marked the start of a dynasty that lasted throughout the 1980s and well into the 1990s.
The Bengals proved to be more of a one-time shot, although they again met the 49ers in a Super Bowl seven years later.
The sim version of the 1981 season provides a different flavor, for starters Jack Patera would be fired on Black Monday in wake of the Seahawks 2-14 season..
For much of the season it appeared the Bengals would replicate the exploits of Forrest Gregg’s real squad, but fell just short. For some reason the 49ers did not get the same respect and finished third in their own division.
The sim spat out the Philadelphia Eagles against the Kansas City Chiefs. The final 18-1 record seems ridiculous, but one year after the team’s actual Super Bowl XV appearance the Eagles did have the NFC’s best point differential.
In real life the Chiefs stood in the thick of the playoff race with a 8-4 record before quarterback Bill Kenney was lost to injury. Kenney spent nine years in Kansas City and later served as a Missouri state senator. The bellcow was AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year Joe Delaney who averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Delaney’s life and tragic and heroic death in 1983 at age 24 has been chronicled in an ESPN film and other outlets.
Instead of hosting the playoffs, the Bengals would have to venture into the heat and humidity of Miami in the divisional round. Cincinnati rallied from a 20-3 deficit but fell to the Dolphins 27-20. The following week Miami traveled to frigid Kansas City for the AFC Championship, where Delaney rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown to give the Chiefs a 28-16 win and the franchises second Super Bowl appearance.
With the second-best record in the NFC, the Vikings were able to host their final game at Metropolitan Stadium as a divisional playoff against the Dallas Cowboys. Fans got a head start on tearing off seats and other salvage operations as the Cowboys bolted out to a 21-0 first quarter lead en route to a 24-16 win.
The Cowboys would have little left in the NFC Championship as Danny White passes went wildly off course in the icy Philadelphia subzero gale. Wilbert Montgomery outrushed Tony Dorsett and the Eagles advanced with a 17-3 win.
That left two cities whose baseball entires met in the 1980 World Series to do battle for the NFL Championship. Food vendors outside the Silverdome made huge income in cheesesteak and BBQ sales while the Eagles and Chiefs made final preparations.
The Eagles jumped out to a quick lead and held a 24-0 lead at halftime. Kansas City mounted a second half comeback, but Philadelphia provided the dagger with five minutes left when Ron Jaworski evaded a pass rush, scrambled and found Harold Carmichael wide open for a 64-yard score.
We can only imagine Merrill Reese calling such an event.