A forward pass, usually thrown out of desperation or in the dying moments of a game, that travels a long distance from the line of scrimmage. There is no set route for the wide receivers for a Hail Mary pass; each team adds its own flavor by using fly, post and corner routes. But at the end of the day, a Hail Mary pass involves the quarterback launching the ball to three or more receivers a long distance of the field.
Despite a low percentage of success, there are some famous examples of Hail Mary passes in football history:
- Doug Flutie's (Boston College) pass to Gerald Phelan with six seconds remaining to beat the defending champion Miami Hurricanes, also known as the 'Hail Flutie'.
- Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach's pass to Drew Pearson in a 1975 playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. Following the game Staubach famously said "I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary" prior to throwing the ball. He is largely credited with making the term "Hail Mary" a popular one in football.
While completed this type of pass is low percentage, it's important to note that it can also draw pass interference penalties, giving the offense another passing attempt with much better field position.