This game was so good it became know in football lore as "The Epic in Miami." This may be the best football game that the Chargers have ever played. It is my personal favorite and established Kellen Winslow as my most favorite athlete of all-time in any sport.
Prior to the start of the 1981 season, San Diego Stadium was renamed Jack Murphy Stadium in honor of the late sports editor of The San Diego Union, who was instrumental in landing the Chargers in San Diego.
Air Coryell continued to fly despite the loss of superstar wide receiver John Jefferson as Wes Chandler slipped right in and joined Charlie Joiner, and Kellen Winslow with 1,000 yards in receptions.
Dan Fouts topped himself again by passing for 4,802 yards and throwing 33 touchdowns.
Also joining in the fun was Running Back Chuck Muncie who scored 19 touchdowns while rushing for 1,144 yards.
The Chargers won the AFC West for the third year in a row with a 10-6 record, which was not good enough to get a first round bye.
In the divisional playoffs in Miami the Chargers grabbed a 24-0 lead early in the first quarter.
However, after Don Strock replaced starting quarterback David Woodley, the Dolphins scored 17 unanswered points in the second period culminating with the famous hook and lateral call on the final play of the first half.
In the third quarter, Miami tied the game, 24-24, with Strock's 15-yard touchdown completion to tight end Joe Rose.
Each team then traded two more touchdowns, with San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts' nine-yard tying score to James Brooks coming with about a minute left in regulation.
Dolphins kicker Uwe von Schamann had a chance to win the game for Miami on the last play of regulation, but his field goal attempt was blocked by Charger's tight end Kellen Winslow.
In overtime, the Chargers took the opening kickoff and advanced to the Miami eight-yard line, but Rolf Benirschke hooked a 27-yard field goal attempt.
Then after both teams exchanged punts twice, the Dolphins reached the San Diego 17-yard line, only to see von Schamann's 34-yard attempt get blocked by defensive lineman Leroy Jones.
The Chargers then drove to the Miami 10-yard line, where Benirschke was called upon to kick the winning field goal, which gave the Chargers a 41-38 win in one of the greatest playoff games ever played.
This game set playoff records for the most points scored in a playoff game (79), the most total yards by both teams (1,036), and most passing yards by both teams (809).
Strock turned in the best game of his life, completing 29 of 43 passes for 403 yards and 4 touchdowns, while Fouts put on one of the best performances of his hall of fame career, completing 33 of 53 passes for 433 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The image of an exhausted Winslow, who finished the game with 13 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown, being helped off the field by two of his teammates has been constantly replayed ever since.
However, a week later the Chargers would stumble playing in a -59 degree wind chill in Cincinnati, losing the AFC championship game for the second straight year by a score of 27-7.
Note: If there is one game in this list that you must see, it is this one. The level of drama in this game has never been matched in any other sporting event I have ever been witness to. The only reason this game is not number one is that it was only a divisional game and not a conference championship game.