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Encyclopedia > Hail Mary pass

A Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary play in American football is a forward pass made in desperation, with only a very small chance of success. The typical Hail Mary is a very long forward heave thrown at or near the end of a half where there is no realistic possibility for any other play to work, though the most famous were thrown at the end of a game. The phrase derives from the name of a prominent Roman Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary. The success of this play is unlikely due to the general inaccuracy of the pass and the defensive team's preparedness for the play -- the pass is thrown and a prayer is said, hoping a receiver catches it; the defense could easily intercept the ball. United States simply as football, is a competitive team sport that is both fast-paced and strategic. ... In several forms of football a forward pass is when the ball is thrown from one player to another on the same team, ending closer to the opponents goal line. ... Topics in Christianity Movements · Denominations Ecumenism · Preaching · Prayer Music · Liturgy · Calendar Symbols · Art · Criticism Important figures Apostle Paul · Church Fathers Constantine · Athanasius · Augustine Anselm · Aquinas · Palamas · Wycliffe Tyndale · Luther · Calvin · Wesley Arius · Marcion of Sinope Pope · Archbishop of Canterbury Patriarch of Constantinople Christianity Portal This box:      The Roman Catholic Church... Hail Mary (disambiguation). ...



Although the Hail Mary has a low percentage chance of completion, it is generally a standard play in every playbook at the professional and college level. The Hail Mary play can occur with 4 wide receivers in the singleback formation or with 4 or 5 wide receivers in the shotgun formation. Generally, three or more eligible receivers are lined up on the short side of the field and all run a fly pattern. The running backs are kept in to block. Sometimes the team running the Hail Mary will not even have a running back in the backfield, instead choosing to use every possible eligible receiver (five of them) to run a pass route, hoping to spread out the defense and give the quarterback more passing options to throw to. The quarterback throws towards the end zone. However, it must be noted that the Hail Mary pass does not actually need to be completed to succeed. It may also succeed in drawing a pass interference penalty on the defense (a strong possibility with so many receivers running deep routes for the defense to cover), which gives the offense the ability to run another play with better field position in all situations (since the game cannot end on a defensive penalty, even if there is no time left on the clock). In college it may not help much as pass interference is only a 15-yard foul, while in the NFL, it is a spot foul, with the ball placed at the 1 if the infraction occurs in the end zone. Jerry Rice holds many career records for wide receivers in the National Football League. ... This article is about the military unit. ... Jerry Rice holds many career records for wide receivers in the National Football League. ... The Shotgun formation is an alignment used by the offensive team in American and Canadian football. ... The wide receiver (WR) position in American and Canadian football is the pass-catching specialist. ... A Fly Route(streak) is a pattern run by a receiver in American Football, where the receiver runs straight upfield towards the endzone. ... High school running back A running back, halfback, tailback or wingback is the position of a player on an American and Canadian football team who lines up in the offensive backfield. ... Navy quarterback Aaron Polanco sets up to throw. ... The end zone is a term in both Canadian football and American football. ... In American Football pass interference is when a player interferes with an eligible receivers ability to make a fair attempt to catch a forward pass. ...

The play is almost never successful in potential game-winning situations, but might be worthy of an attempt in situations where there are no other alternatives, such as a run or a shorter pass that would be tantamount to giving up.


Defending against the Hail Mary is straightforward. The first priority is to ensure the defensive backs are in zone coverage, and that they keep the receivers well in front of them until the ball is thrown. Second, generally no more than four defensive linemen rush the quarterback, with all the linebackers dropping back to prevent a shorter pass. In many cases, the defense will remove some of its linebackers and linemen and replace them with extra defensive backs, in order to help compensate when the opposing team brings in extra receivers, leading to there being five or six defensive backs on the field instead of the usual four, generally known as the nickel and dime packages, respectively. Once the ball gets down field, the primary role of the defensive back is to knock the ball to the ground, thus ending the play, and preventing something such as an offensive player stripping the ball or a fumble that could happen if the defensive player intercepted the ball. Zone defense is a type of defense used in sports which is the alternative to man-to-man defense; instead of each player guarding a corresponding player on the other team, each defensive player is given an area, or a zone, to cover. ...

Occasionally, especially in college football, offensive players (usually wide receivers) will be put in on defense to defend a Hail Mary. Hail Mary passes are most successful when the defense is in the wrong alignment. If the defense is in man-to-man coverage, and a receiver manages to break coverage by getting further down field than the nearest defensive back, the chance of success is greatly improved.


The term "Hail Mary pass" is believed to have been coined by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, referring to his desperation (and Catholic beliefs), for his game-winning touchdown pass in a December 28, 1975 NFC semifinal playoff game. With 24 seconds remaining, Staubach threw a desperation pass to receiver Drew Pearson, who was being covered by cornerback Nate Wright. It appeared that Pearson had pushed off, but as the ball came down Pearson stopped and Wright tripped over his leg. Pearson caught the ball pinned slightly against his right hip and ran into the end zone for the winning touchdown. In discussing the play during a post-game interview, Staubach told reporters that he closed his eyes, threw the ball as hard as he could, and said a Hail Mary prayer. Although the term may date further back, no reference has been cited as yet which predates Staubach's comments.[1] [2] In American football, The Hail Mary refers to a play that resulted in the winning score in the 1975 NFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings, played on December 28, 1975 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Navy quarterback Aaron Polanco sets up to throw. ... Roger Thomas Staubach (born February 5, 1942) is a businessman, Heisman Trophy winner and former American professional football player where he was the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys for most of the 1970s during their reign as Americas Team. ... December 28 is the 362nd day of the year (363rd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 3 days remaining. ... 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday. ... The National Football Conference is one of the two conferences of the National Football League. ... Drew Pearson is a sportscaster and former American football player for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. ... This article does not cite its references or sources. ... Hail Mary (disambiguation). ...


See also: List of Hail Marys in American football

Arguably, the most famous Hail Mary pass came in a 1984 game between Boston College and Miami (FL). With just 6 seconds left on the clock, BC quarterback Doug Flutie threw a desperation Hail Mary pass which succeeded primarily because Miami's secondary stood on the goal line to keep the receivers in front of them, and failed to cover a post route being run by Gerard Phelan. Miami's defense was based on the assumption that Flutie would be unable to 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. [3] (See also Flutie effect) Here is a list, ordered by year, of successfully completed Hail Mary plays from collegiate and professional football in the United States. ... The Hail Flutie game was a college football game that took place between the Boston College Eagles and the University of Miami Hurricanes on November 23, 1984, and is considered among the greatest games of all time[1]. The game is most notable for a last-second Hail Mary pass... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This is an article about the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. ... Douglas Richard Doug Flutie (b. ... The goal line is the chalked or painted line dividing the end zone from the field of play in Canadian football and American football. ... Gerard Phelan played wide receiver for the Boston College Eagles. ... A yard (abbreviation: yd) is the name of a unit of length in a number of different systems, including English units, Imperial units, and United States customary units. ... The Flutie effect or Flutie factor refers to the phenomenon of having a successful sports team increase the exposure and prominence of a university. ...

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Scout.com: History: Dallas Hail Mary (673 words)
Mention the term "Hail Mary" to any longtime Vikings fan and he'll think of one of two plays.
As the ball came down, Pearson pushed off of Wright and caught the pass, trapping it against his hip at the 5-yard line.
"It was just a Hail Mary pass; a very, very lucky play." After some time had passed, the play was part of history, new grudges were set, and the NFL had washed its hands of the embarrassing matter.
  More results at FactBites »



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