1981 Denver Broncos season
OwnerEdgar Kaiser
General managerGrady Alderman
Head coachDan Reeves
Home fieldMile High Stadium
Results
Record10–6
Division place2nd AFC West
Playoff finishDid not qualify

The 1981 Denver Broncos season was the team's 22nd year in professional football and its 12th with the National Football League (NFL). Led by first-year head coach Dan Reeves,[1] the Broncos were 10–6, tied for first in the AFC West, but failed to make the postseason again due to their loss to the Buffalo Bills, who gained the final berth.

The Broncos were undefeated at home in 1981,[2] but had six road losses. After a promising 8–3 start, Denver lost three of their final five games, including a critical loss at Cincinnati in week 12. Entering the season finale at Chicago, they had a one-game lead over the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West,[2] but the loss at Soldier Field ended their season, losing the tiebreakers for the division and wild card berths.[3][4]

Prior to this season, ownership changed in February; coaching and front office changes were made in March.[1][5][6][7]

NFL Draft

Main article: 1981 NFL Draft

1981 Denver Broncos draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 15 Dennis Smith *  S USC
2 42 Clay Brown  TE BYU
4 106 Mark Herrmann  QB Purdue
5 125 Ken Lanier  T Florida State
6 151 Alvin Lewis  RB Colorado State
7 181 Steve Busick  LB USC
9 234 Rusty Olsen  DE Washington
11 290 Pat Walker  WR Miami (FL)
12 317 John Hankerd  LB Notre Dame
12 321 Mandel Robinson  RB Wyoming
      Made roster    †   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career

Personnel

Staff

1981 Denver Broncos staff
Front office

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Reed Johnson


Source:[8]

Roster

1981 Denver Broncos roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists


Practice squad



Rookies in italics

Source:

Regular season

Main article: 1981 NFL season

Schedule

Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attendance
1 September 6 Oakland Raiders W 9–7 1–0 Mile High Stadium 74,796
2 September 13 at Seattle Seahawks L 10–13 1–1 Kingdome 58,513
3 September 20 Baltimore Colts W 28–10 2–1 Mile High Stadium 74,804
4 September 27 San Diego Chargers W 42–24 3–1 Mile High Stadium 74,822
5 October 4 at Oakland Raiders W 17–0 4–1 Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum 51,035
6 October 11 Detroit Lions W 27–21 5–1 Mile High Stadium 74,816
7 October 18 at Kansas City Chiefs L 14–28 5–2 Arrowhead Stadium 74,672
8 October 25 at Buffalo Bills L 7–9 5–3 Rich Stadium 77,757
9 November 2 Minnesota Vikings W 19–17 6–3 Mile High Stadium 74,834
10 November 8 Cleveland Browns W 23–20 OT 7–3 Mile High Stadium 74,859
11 November 15 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers W 24–7 8–3 Tampa Stadium 64,518
12 November 22 at Cincinnati Bengals L 21–38 8–4 Riverfront Stadium 57,207
13 November 29 at San Diego Chargers L 17–34 8–5 Jack Murphy Stadium 51,533
14 December 6 Kansas City Chiefs W 16–13 9–5 Mile High Stadium 74,744
15 December 13 Seattle Seahawks W 23–13 10–5 Mile High Stadium 74,527
16 December 20 at Chicago Bears L 24–35 10–6 Soldier Field 40,125
Note: Intra-division opponents are in bold text.

[9]

Standings

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

References

  1. ^ a b Zimmerman, Paul (October 19, 1981). "Denver is standing mile-high once again". Sports Illustrated. p. 48.
  2. ^ a b Mossman, John (December 14, 1981). "Broncos snow Seahawks, 23-13". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. 17.
  3. ^ "Bears, 35-24". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 21, 1981. p. 3C.
  4. ^ "Bears bust Broncos, damage Denver's hopes". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 21, 1981. p. C2.
  5. ^ "Red is out, Reeves in at Denver". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 10, 1981. p. 19.
  6. ^ Reid, Ron (March 10, 1981). "Miller out, Reeves in as Broncos coach". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 13.
  7. ^ "Reeves hired as new Bronco coach". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). Associated Press. March 11, 1981. p. G2.
  8. ^ 2010 Denver Broncos Media Guide. p. 365. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  9. ^ "Viking comeback falls just short". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. November 3, 1981. p. 18.