The Ave Maria is one of the most dramatic pieces in sports, an all-or-nothing proposition that can stun a crowd until they either shut up or put them back on their feet. The game only acquired a nickname that stuck on December 28, 1975, when Roger Staubach of Dallas joined Drew Pearson for a 50-yard touchdown in the dying seconds of an NFL Cowboys-Vikings playoff game. Here are seven of the most famous Hail Mary passes in football history:
1. BYU’s Jim McMahon at Clay Brown vs. Southern Methodist (Holiday Bowl), December 19, 1980
Situation: Third and 10 from the 41-yard SMU line.
McMahon and the Cougars, who led the NCAA in total offense, offense and points per game, turned a 45-25 deficit into a 45-39 game with a late rally. Then BYU blocked a punt from SMU and took over to the Mustangs’ 41, needing a touchdown and an extra point to win. On the last play, McMahon landed on his own 47-yard line and landed a pitch that Brown caught for a touchdown among SMU defensemen.
“I really don’t know what happened,” SMU linebacker Byron Hunt told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “We were totally shocked at the end. It was just luck that allowed them to win.
Even BYU head coach LaVell Edwards was stunned by the return, telling reporters, “We caught fire in the fourth quarter and it was a ‘Hail Mary’ at the end. After they took a 20 point lead, I thought that was it.
2. Doug Flutie from Boston College to Gerard Phelan vs. Miami, November 23, 1984
Situation: Second and 10 off the Miami 48-yard line. | LOOK
“I thought it could happen,” Flutie told reporters after her Hail Mary shocked Miami, 47-45, along with her teammates and head coach.
Taking the ball to her own 20s with 28 seconds left, Flutie – who won the 1984 Heisman Trophy – moved the Eagles 32 yards in three games. With six seconds remaining, he dropped back to his 35, then stepped up a few yards and threw a throw of about 65 yards, falling on Hurricane defenders and into the hands of a slippery Phelan.
“I would be a sad child if this one escaped. I held onto it like it was my firstborn, ”Phelan said of the 48-yard touchdown pass. “When [my teammates] everything jumped on me, I thought I was dead.
Boston College coach Jack Bicknell said, via The Palm Beach Post: “I can’t say I thought we could do it. I was thinking about what to say to my defending players because I knew they would take the loss of this game very personally.
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3. Colorado’s Kordell Stewart to Michael Westbrook vs. Michigan, September 24, 1994
Situation: Second and 10 from Colorado’s 36-yard line.
The Buffaloes were down, 26-21, and had to go 85 yards in 15 seconds. Stewart passed 21 yards at Westbrook, spiked the football to stop the clock, and on the next play threw perhaps the most impressive Hail Mary in football history. The ball traveled nearly 75 yards and was handed over to Westbrook for the winning score of 64 yards.
“Amazing,” Michigan linebacker Steve Morrison said of Stewart’s pitch.
Detroit Free Press Columnist Joe Falls wrote: “A Hail Mary pass? Make it an Our Father, because it had to be in this one for the Buffaloes to win. “
Neither Stewart nor Colorado head coach Bill McCartney, a former Michigan assistant, disagreed. “God just made it happen,” said Stewart. “It was a miracle. A gift from God.
“It was the Lord… it was the Lord,” said McCartney.
4. Cleveland’s Tim Couch to Kevin Johnson vs. New Orleans, October 31, 1999
Situation: First and 10 from Cleveland’s 44-yard line. | LOOK
The Browns were 0-7, losing five double-digit games, in their first year in the NFL since the original Browns moved to Baltimore. Cleveland was on the verge of an unfortunate loss to New Orleans, led 16-14 with two seconds left and 56 yards to go.
On the last play, Couch sprinted to the right to avoid pressure and lifted a ball which was knocked over into the air and caught by Johnson just inside the front pylon for a touchdown. Before the game, Cleveland defensive tackle Darius Holland had resigned himself to another loss: Akron Beacon Journal. “I’m going home.”
Saints head coach Mike Ditka, whose team gave up a Hail Mary touchdown to complete the first half the week before, was in disbelief: “[We had] a preemptive defense, but if it’s played with a certain technique it’s called a win defense, “he said.” Unfortunately when we play it it’s a win for the other team. ”
5. Russell Wilson of Seattle v Golden Tate v Green Bay, September 24, 2012.
Situation: Fourth and 10 off the Green Bay 24 yard line. | LOOK
“Don’t ask me about the officials,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said after the game, in a 14-12 loss to Green Bay. “It was horrible. That’s all I’m going to say about it,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said.
They were talking about the “Fail Mary”, as we quickly came to know. One of the most famous – infamous, really – plays in NFL history was, at least technically, a successful Hail Mary.
The Seahawks and Wilson, who was on his third career start, were 12-7 down and needed a touchdown to win. Wilson rushed to the 40-yard line and passed for the corner of the end zone, where Packers MD safety Jennings appeared to intercept the ball before Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate fought for him and not take possession of it.
Replacement officials, working the game due to the 2012 NFL referee lockout, saw it differently; one reported a touchdown, the other a timeout, which meant he wanted a closer look. After a review, officials determined that both men had concurrent possession, which meant the play was a winning touchdown.
The outcry was so fierce that the lockout ended two days later, and the regular officials returned.
6. Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay at Jeff Janis vs. Arizona on Jan. 16, 2016 (NFC Divisional Round).
Situation: Second and 15th from Arizona’s 41-yard line. | LOOK
“I saw Jeff briefly and just tried to put some air on it to give him a chance,” Rodgers said of the miracle, a 59-yard touchdown, thrown as he rushed over. his left, falling and under heavy pressure from The touchdown and the extra point tied the score at 20.
The Cardinals won the game in overtime, however. “Losing that way, especially with the offense coming off, another ‘Hail Mary’ is amazing,” Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.
7. Arizona’s Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins vs. Buffalo, November 15, 2020
Situation: First and 10 of Buffalo’s 43-yard line. | LOOK
Almost five years after Rodgers’ incredible throw, Murray did a similar Hail Mary. The throw was made in the same end zone where Rodgers connected with Janis. Murray rushed back and got out of a Buffalo tackle attempt before sneaking and throwing the ball to Hopkins, who passed three Bills defensemen for a touchdown in Arizona’s 32-30 win. .
Due to his momentum after the throw, Murray never saw the catch. From the reaction of his teammates and the home crowd, he knew the game was successful. “I’m just glad he caught it,” the quarterback said via the Republic of Arizona. Hopkins told reporters, “If I can get my hands on the ball, I get it.”
“[T]hey, two special players made a special game, “Bills coach Sean McDermott said. Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, New York.
READ MORE: How Roger Staubach & Drew Pearson Made The Hail Mary Pass Famous