A Hail Mary pass is a very long forward pass in American football, typically made in desperation, with great difficulty of achieving a completion. Due to the small chance of success, it makes reference to the Catholic Hail Mary prayer for help.
The expression goes back at least to the 1930s, when it was used publicly by two former members of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football's Four Horsemen, Elmer Layden and Jim Crowley. Originally meaning any sort of desperation play, a "Hail Mary" gradually came to denote a long, low-probability pass, typically of the "alley-oop" variety, attempted at the end of a half when a team is too far from the end zone to execute a more conventional play, implying that it would take divine intervention for the play to succeed. For more than 40 years, use of the term was largely confined to Notre Dame and other Catholic universities.
The term became widespread after a December 28, 1975, National Football League playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach said about his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, "I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary."
Crowley often told the story of an October 28, 1922, game between Notre Dame and Georgia Tech in which the Fighting Irish players said Hail Mary prayers together before scoring each of the touchdowns, before winning the game 13–3. According to Crowley, it was one of the team’s linemen, Noble Kizer (a Presbyterian), who suggested praying before the first touchdown, which occurred on a fourth and goal play at the Georgia Tech 6-yard line during the second quarter. Quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, another of the Horsemen, threw a quick pass over the middle to Paul Castner for the score. The ritual was repeated before a third and goal play, again at Georgia Tech’s 6-yard line, in the fourth quarter. This time Stuhldreher ran for a touchdown, which sealed the win for Notre Dame. After the game, Kizer exclaimed to Crowley, "Say, that Hail Mary is the best play we've got." Crowley related this story many times in public speeches beginning in the 1930s.
On November 2, 1935, with 32 seconds left in the so-called "Game of the Century" between Ohio State and Notre Dame, Irish halfback Bill Shakespeare found receiver Wayne Millner for a 19-yard, game-winning touchdown. Notre Dame head coach Elmer Layden, who had played in the 1922 Georgia Tech game, afterwards called it a "Hail Mary" play.
An early appearance of the term was in an Associated Press story about the upcoming 1941 Orange Bowl between the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Georgetown Hoyas. The piece appeared in several newspapers including the December 31, 1940, Daytona Beach Morning Journal under the headline, "Orange Bowl: [Georgetown] Hoyas Put Faith in 'Hail Mary' Pass". As the article explained, "A 'hail Mary' pass, in the talk of the Washington eleven, is one that is thrown with a prayer because the odds against completion are big."
During an NBC broadcast in 1963, Staubach, then a Navy quarterback, described a pass play during his team's victory over Michigan that year as a "Hail Mary play". He scrambled to escape a pass rush, nearly getting sacked 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage before completing a desperation pass for a one-yard gain.
Arguably the most memorable and replayed Hail Mary pass came on November 23, 1984, in a game now known as "Hail Flutie".Boston College was losing to Miami (FL) with six seconds left when their quarterback Doug Flutie threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Gerard Phelan, succeeding primarily because Miami's secondary stood on the goal line to keep the receivers in front of them without covering a post route behind them. Miami's defense was based on the assumption that the five-foot-nine-inch Flutie could not throw the ball as far as the end zone, but Flutie hit Phelan in stride against a flatfooted defense a yard deep in the end zone. To commemorate the play, a statue of Flutie in his Hail Mary passing pose was unveiled outside Alumni Stadium at Boston College on November 7, 2008.
Other noteworthy examples include:
The term "Hail Mary" is sometimes used to refer to any last-ditch effort with little chance of success.
In military uses, General Norman Schwarzkopf described his strategy during the Persian Gulf War to bypass the bulk of Iraqi forces in Kuwait by attacking in a wide left sweep through their rear as a "Hail Mary" plan. This usage, however, did not refer to the plan's chances of success but to the movement of Coalition forces to the left side of the front lines prior to the attack, which reflected the formation for a Hail Mary pass in which all the offensive team's wide receivers line up on one side of the line of scrimmage.
Various legal actions attempting to overturn Donald Trump's defeat in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in particular the Texas v. Pennsylvania Supreme Court lawsuit, were described as "Hail Marys".
There are similar usages in other fields, such as a "Hail Mary shot" in photography where the photographer holds the view finder of an SLR camera far from his eye (so unable to compose the picture), usually high above his head, and takes a shot. This is often used in crowded situations.
In computer security, a "Hail Mary attack" will throw every exploit it has against a system to see whether any of them work.
Douglas Richard Flutie is an American former gridiron football quarterback whose professional career spanned 21 seasons. He played 12 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), eight seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL), and one season in the United States Football League (USFL). Flutie played college football at Boston College, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1984 amid a season that saw him perform the iconic Hail Flutie, a game-winning touchdown pass thrown in the final seconds against Miami. He chose to begin his professional career with the USFL's New Jersey Generals; his unavailability to NFL teams resulted in him selected 285th overall by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round of the 1985 NFL Draft, the lowest drafting of a Heisman winner. After the USFL folded, Flutie played his first four NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots.
Roger Thomas Staubach, nicknamed "Roger the Dodger", "Captain America" and "Captain Comeback", is an American former professional football player who was a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football League (NFL).
The Music City Miracle was an American football play that took place on January 8, 2000, during the National Football League's (NFL) 1999–2000 playoffs. It occurred at the end of the American Football Conference (AFC) Wild Card playoff game between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills at Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. After the Bills had taken a 16–15 lead on a field goal with 16 seconds remaining in the game, on the ensuing kickoff return, Titans tight end Frank Wycheck threw a lateral pass across the field to Kevin Dyson, who then ran 75 yards to score the winning touchdown to earn a 22–16 victory.
The Holy War is an American rivalry between the Boston College Eagles and University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a technical nonconference rivalry in College football, but in most sports an Atlantic Coast Conference rivalry. The series derives its name from the fact that the Eagles and the Fighting Irish represent the only two Catholic universities in the United States which still compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the highest level of competition in American college football.
Gerard P. Phelan is a former college football player who played wide receiver for Boston College.
The Hail Flutie game, also known as the Miracle in Miami, is a college football game in 1984 that took place between the Boston College Eagles and the Miami Hurricanes on November 23. It has been regarded by FOX Sports writer Kevin Hench as among the most memorable moments in sports.
The Bluegrass Miracle was a 74-yard game-winning touchdown pass by the No. 16 LSU Tigers with no time left on the clock against the Kentucky Wildcats on November 9, 2002 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. The ball was tipped by a Kentucky player before being caught at the 15-yard line by Devery Henderson of LSU, who ran it in for the score.
The 2006 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 2006 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The team was coached by Charlie Weis and played its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. The team completed the season with a record of ten wins and three losses that culminated in a post-season appearance in the 2007 Sugar Bowl and a number 19 ranking in the nation.
The 2007 Navy vs. Notre Dame football game ended the longest all-time college football consecutive wins streak by one team over another. On November 3, 2007, the Navy Midshipmen defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 46–44 in triple-overtime at Notre Dame's home field, Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame came into this annual game with 43 straight wins against Navy since the last loss against Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach in 1963. With the win, Navy improved to 5–4 and Notre Dame fell to 1–8 on the season.
The 2000 Buffalo Bills season was the team's 41st and 31st as part of the National Football League. The Bills total offense ranked 9th in the league and their total defense ranked 3rd in the league. The 2000 season was the first since the 1987 season that long-time Bills players Bruce Smith, Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas were not on the team together, as all were released just days after the Bills were eliminated from the 1999 playoffs. Smith and Reed signed with the Redskins, while Thomas signed with the Dolphins. The Buffalo Bills finished in fourth place in the AFC East and finished the National Football League's 2000 season with a record of 8 wins and 8 losses. Though the Bills were 7-4 after eleven games, they lost their next four in a row, only avoiding a losing season in the final game of the year. The 2000 season marked a turning point in Buffalo's history.
The 1985 Fiesta Bowl was the fourteenth edition of the college football bowl game, played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Tuesday, January 1. Part of the 1984–85 bowl game season, it matched the fourteenth-ranked UCLA Bruins of the Pacific-10 Conference, and the #13 Miami Hurricanes, an independent.
The 1985 Cotton Bowl Classic was the 49th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday, January 1. Part of the 1984–85 bowl game season, it matched the eighth-ranked independent Boston College Eagles and the unranked Houston Cougars of the Southwest Conference (SWC). Boston College never trailed and won 45–28.
Everett Demone Golson is a former American football quarterback. He previously played quarterback for Notre Dame from 2011 to the spring of 2015. Golson chose to transfer to Florida State after graduating from Notre Dame.
The Mile High Miracle is both the NFL 2012 AFC Divisional playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos on January 12, 2013, and its defining play, a game-tying 70-yard touchdown pass from Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco to receiver Jacoby Jones with under a minute left in regulation. Playing on the road against the heavily favored Broncos, who had decisively defeated the struggling Ravens late in the regular season while on an 11-game winning streak, Flacco and the Ravens forced the Peyton Manning-led Broncos into double overtime, when rookie kicker Justin Tucker kicked a 47-yard field goal to secure a 38–35 win. With 28 points scored in the first eleven minutes of the game, three return touchdowns, five lead changes, and single-digit temperatures, the game was described by Sports Illustrated as "one of the most exciting and entertaining postseason games in NFL history." The Ravens would go on to beat the New England Patriots, and two weeks later, defeat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII for the franchise's second championship.
The Prayer at Jordan–Hare was a game-winning Hail Mary pass thrown during a college football game between the Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs, played on November 16, 2013 at Jordan–Hare Stadium in Auburn in the 117th installment of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.
DeShone Allen Kizer is an American football quarterback for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Green Bay Packers and Las Vegas Raiders.
The Miracle in Motown was the final play of an American football game between the NFC North divisional rivals Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions on Thursday, December 3, 2015. The game, which was broadcast on television nationally on Thursday Night Football, was played at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan during the 2015 NFL season. On the final play of regulation, with no time remaining on the game clock, Packers quarterback (QB) Aaron Rodgers threw a 61-yard (56 m) Hail Mary pass into the end-zone that was caught by tight end (TE) Richard Rodgers for the game-winning touchdown.
The Miracle at the Met refers to the Minnesota Vikings' comeback win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 15 of the 1980 NFL season. The Vikings trailed 23–9 in the fourth quarter, but won after Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer passed for two touchdowns to wide receiver Ahmad Rashad in the last two minutes, including a 46-yard Hail Mary pass caught with one hand on the last play of the game. The final play is also known as the "Miracle Catch." The Vikings won, 28–23.
The 2018 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 2018 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The team was led by head coach Brian Kelly, who was in his ninth season at Notre Dame, and played its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in Notre Dame, Indiana. The Fighting Irish competed as an independent.
|Look up Hail Mary pass in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|