The Hail Mary play is a desperation play that a quarterback can make when there are only a few crucial seconds left in a football game. The quarterback will throw a pass that is not very likely to be completed into the end zone to get a touchdown or win the game.
What is a Hail Mary Pass in Football?
A Hail Mary pass is a long-range forward pass towards the end zone. It’s not a very complicated play, but it can be vitally important to the result of a game. Often, a group of receivers and defensive backs have to leap to try and catch the pass. If a wide receiver catches the ball in the end zone, it results in a touchdown.
How Many Points is a Hail Mary?
Where Did the Name Come From?
The Hail Mary play is named for the play itself. The play, called a “Hail Mary,” was developed by Coach Elmer Layden and Nobel Kizer at Notre Dame. It is a play in which a player in the end zone throws a pass directly to the center of the field. If the receiver misses the field goal post, the play is a failure. On the other hand, if the receiver catches the ball, the pass becomes a touchdown.
In the game between Notre Dame and Ohio State, Bill Shakespeare, a member of the University of Notre Dame, threw a game-winning touchdown pass to Wayne Millner. After the game, Elmer Layden, the head coach of the University of Notre Dame, called it a “Hail Mary” play.
Why Would a Quarterback Throw a Hail Mary Pass?
Quarterbacks usually throw the ball late in the game in a close game in order to win it. They usually throw the ball poorly, as they are using all their strength to get it as deep as possible. This desperation pass is usually one of the last plays, so it’s usually a fantastic finish.
Famous Hail Mary Passes
The New England Patriots have had their fair share of memorable Hail Mary passes, but none have been more legendary than the one thrown by New England quarterback Tom Brady to wide receiver Wes Welker in the fourth quarter against the Miami Dolphins in the 2007 AFC Championship Playoffs.
Doug Flutie threw a Hail Mary pass in a national semi-final game in the 1988 Peach Bowl. The pass was caught by Gerald Phelan, and it was the longest pass in the history of the game with the exception of one thrown by Florida State’s Peter Warrick in 1986. The pass was originally ruled a touchdown, but was later overturned as the ball did not clear the end zone.
During the 2019-2020 season, Aaron Rodgers threw two Hail Mary passes. On December 26, against the Chicago Bears, Rodgers hit receiver Davante Adams for the game-winning touchdown in the final minute of the game. On December 30, in the Wild Card Playoffs against the New Orleans Saints, he connected with Jared Cook on a 64-yard pass as time ran out to advance to the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
A few weeks later, Rodgers is still on top of his game. He has just completed a pass for 40 yards and a touchdown to Randall Cobb, with Rodgers and Cobb standing at the 5 yard line as the clock runs down. The Packers have just won their third playoff game in 4 years. To Rodgers, it must feel like déjà vu.
How Defenses React to Hail Mary Plays
While football tackles often result in injuries, a Hail Mary tackle can be much worse. A defender can be in perfect position to stop a ball carrier, but instead of tackling him, could end up hitting him in the head, neck or shoulders with his or her hands.
Defense is the ultimate trump card. The greater the number of defenders that can get to the ball before the offense reaches it, the greater the chance the opposing defense has of making a stop or scoring a touchdown.
Conclusion: What is a Hail Mary Pass in Football?
The Hail Mary pass is a long throw to the end zone resulting in a jump ball or alley-oop. It’s more often the last play of a team trying to either win or push it to overtime. A successful Hail Mary play has the opportunity to go down in history as one of the greatest plays of a quarterback’s career.