Notable NFL game-ending Hail Mary plays

Quincy Morgan, Fernando Bryant
Cleveland Browns receiver Quincy Morgan (81) makes a touchdown catch against Jacksonville Jaguars defensive back Fernando Bryant on the game’s final play for a 21-20 victory on Dec. 8, 2002.
(Nigel Cook / Associated Press)

NFL Hail Mary

1975 NFC Divisional Playoffs — Dallas 17, Minnesota 14: Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach throws a 50-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson to defeat the Vikings. Staubach’s postgame comments about the play are thought to have popularized “Hail Mary” as a football term.

1978 — Atlanta 20, New Orleans 17: Falcons win on a 57-yard pass from Steve Bartkowski to Alfred Jackson.

1980 — Minnesota 28, Cleveland 23: Using a play from their playbook called “Squadron Right,” Tommy Kramer completes a 54-yard pass to Ahmad Rashad as time expires. This pass is known in Minnesota as the “Miracle Catch.” As a result of the victory, the Vikings qualified for the playoffs.


1981 — Buffalo 20, New England 17: Joe Ferguson throws a 36-yard pass that is tipped in the end zone and caught for a touchdown by running back Roland Hooks. The win gives Buffalo the last AFC playoff spot.

1983 — Atlanta 28, San Francisco 24: Steve Bartkowski throws a 47-yard Hail Mary to Billy “White Shoes” Johnson on the final play.

1987 — San Francisco 27, Cincinnati 26: Leading, 26–20, with six seconds remaining, Bengals coach Sam Wyche calls for a fourth-down running play instead of a punt, giving the 49ers possession with two seconds remaining. Joe Montana then throws a touchdown pass to Jerry Rice as time expires and the 49ers kick the extra point for the win.

1991 — Atlanta 17, San Francisco 14: Billy Joe Tolliver connects with Michael Haynes for 44 yards with one second left. The win proves crucial for the Falcons, as it gives them the tiebreaker advantage and a playoff spot ahead of the 49ers.


1999 — Cleveland 21, New Orleans 16: The Browns win their first game since coming back to the NFL as Tim Couch completes a 56-yard pass to Kevin Johnson as time expires.

2002 — Cleveland 21, Jacksonville 20: Tim Couch completes a 50-yard pass to Quincy Morgan. Browns fans refer to it as the “Hail Morgan.”

2010 — Jacksonville 31, Houston 24: With three seconds left, David Garrard attempts a desperation pass to wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker. Texans safety Glover Quin bats the ball out of the end zone, but into the hands of Mike Thomas on the one, who steps into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

2012 — Seattle 14, Green Bay 12: Playing with replacement officials on a Monday night, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throws a last-second pass to Golden Tate, who was surrounded by three Packers in the end zone. M.D. Jennings of the Packers seemed to have intercepted the pass, but Tate was able to get his hands on the ball before Jennings landed on the ground. One replacement official eventually ruled a touchdown on the field based on the simultaneous catch rule, but another official signaled for the clock to stop. A booth replay review followed and the touchdown ruling stood. This actually became known as the “Fail Mary” because of what is presumed to be a botched call by the replacement officials.

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