Hail Mary pass

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A Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary play in American football refers to any very long forward pass made in desperation with only a small chance of success, especially at or near the end of a half.

Although the expression had been used before, it was made famous when it was used to describe the game-winning touchdown pass by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson in a December 28, 1975, NFL playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. Afterwards, it was reported that Staubach (a Roman Catholic) said, "I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary."


The term "Hail Mary pass" was used by the press to describe a pass by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach in a 1975 divisional playoff game. The term first came into mainstream use by the sporting press resulting from an interview shortly after the game-winning touchdown pass. Staubach was referring to his desperation (and Catholic faith) for his game-winning touchdown pass in the December 28, 1975, NFC Divisional Playoff Game.

The Dallas Cowboys started with the ball on their own 15-yard line, trailing 14-10, with one minute and fifty-one seconds left in the fourth quarter. Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach managed a nine-play drive to midfield against the Minnesota Vikings defense. From midfield, with 24 seconds now remaining, Staubach lined up in the shotgun formation, took the snap, pump-faked left, then turned to his right and...
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