The 1981Dallas Cowboys season was their 22nd in the league. The team matched their previous output of 12–4, winning their fifth division title in six years. They lost the Conference Championship game for the second straight season.
The season began with four straight victories, followed by two losses (including a surprising 45–14 blowout loss to the 49ers in week six). The Cowboys rebounded to win 8 of their 9 games to clinch the NFC East but had to settle for the conference's number two seed behind the 49ers.
The Cowboys easily defeated Tampa Bay in the divisional playoff to earn a rematch with the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The game was much closer this time, and the Cowboys still held a 27–21 lead with less than a minute to play. However, Joe Montana led a late drive and hit Dwight Clark in the famous "Catch" to give San Francisco a 28–27 victory.