hail Mary pass


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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