Hail Mary pass

(redirected from a Hail-Mary pass)

Hail Mary pass

1. American football A long forward pass with a low success of being caught, typically thrown in desperation at the end of a half. And he throws a Hail Mary pass! Ah, it's incomplete. No overtime tonight, folks.
2. By extension, a final, usually drastic or risky effort to avoid failure or defeat that has a low probability of success, typically done in desperation. The experimental new medication will be something of a Hail Mary pass as doctors scramble to save the patient's life. The political candidate decried his opponent's new attack campaign as nothing more than a cheap Hail Mary pass attempting to distract the public at the last minute.
See also: hail, Mary, pass
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

hail Mary pass

A maneuver tried against heavy odds. This term originated in football, where it means a last-ditch attempt to score because time is running out. The name comes from the familiar prayer beginning with “Hail Mary” and alludes to the fact that the passer is, in effect, praying that his throw will succeed. A famous example occurred in 1984, when Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie threw a long pass into Miami’s end zone. It was caught by his roommate, Gerard Phelan, for a touchdown that put Boston into the 1985 Cotton Bowl. The term soon was transferred to other long-shot maneuvers. In the Persian Gulf War of 1991, Allied troops were lined up on Saudi soil, and between them and Kuwait City stood the entire Iraqi force. A French battalion, making a wide arc around both lines, moved some 150 miles behind the Iraqis and mounted a successful attack that in effect ended the war. In the press conference that followed, Allied commander Schwartzkopf called the maneuver “a Hail Mary play.”
See also: hail, Mary, pass
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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