TIL over 15% of successful Hail Mary’s in NFL history involve the Minnesota Vikings

Hail Mary
Kyle Rudolph catches 44-yard Hail Mary from Kirk Cousins to end the first half in Detroit.

TIL over 15% of successful Hail Mary’s in NFL history involve the Minnesota Vikings 

And over HALF involve a NFC North team!

It’s been a good day. 

When the Minnesota Vikings win a game I don’t actually spend the night avoiding any/all NFL news like Packers fans do stairs/uncushioned toilet seats. I bring that up because I just got done watching the near upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers by the Dallas Cowboys, which came down to a short Hail Mary attempt by “‘Murica’s Team”. 

My fiancé asked me which quarterback had the most successful Hail Mary’s in NFL history, and as (up until she met me) a lifelong Packers fan, she said she thought that Aaron Rodgers had. I said, as a lifelong Vikings fan, no (but that I wasn’t sure). 

So I hopped on the internets and found out that Rodgers was actually responsible for three successful Hail Mary’s which is about 10% of the actual successful Hail Marys in league history (with only 29 plays counting as that). 

As someone born in the mid-80’s, I wasn’t around for the first ever Hail Mary, which of course happened and was elevated to household name status against the Minnesota Vikings in one of the most infamous Vikings games of all time.

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First, the definition of a real Hail Mary (from Wikipedia):

“Originally meaning any sort of desperation play, a “Hail Mary” gradually came to denote a long, low-probability pass, typically of the “alley-oop” variety, attempted at the end of a half when a team is too far from the end zone to execute a more conventional play, implying that it would take divine intervention for the play to succeed. For more than 40 years, use of the term was largely confined to Notre Dame and other Catholic universities.”

Then, the game (also from Wikipedia):

“The term became widespread after a December 28, 1975, NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach said about his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.” 

I might lose my press credentials in perpetuity for saying this, but, I really don’t think that Drew Pearson pushed off (which isn’t the point of this article, but worth mentioning). 

In this super 4k image, it seems as if Pearson is looking back at and preparing to catch the deep ball and any contact is incidental. But again, not the point of this story, just something me and my Dad have always argued as he was AT that game and in my opinion is probably the guy who threw that Whiskey bottle at the ref who signaled the touchdown from mid-field.


What Hail Marys were the Vikings a part of outside of that? The Vikings were actually a part of two of the first three in NFL history with the second being more fondly remembered by the purple faithful. 

All descriptions are from Wikipedia.


1980 — Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings: Using a play from their playbook called “Squadron Right”, Minnesota quarterback Tommy Kramer completed a Hail Mary pass to Ahmad Rashād as time expired resulting in a 28–23 victory for the Vikings. This pass is also known as the “Miracle at the Met.” Kramer passed for 456 yards in the game. As a result of the victory, the Vikings qualified for the playoffs and would lose to the eventual NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

1987 – NFC Wild Card Playoffs – Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints: In the Saints’ first-ever playoff game, the Vikings were ahead 24–10 near the end of the first half, when Wade Wilson completed a Hail Mary pass to Hassan Jones, to make the halftime score 31–10. The touchdown put the game out of reach, and the Vikings defeated the Saints 44–10.

2003 — Minnesota Vikings vs. Denver Broncos: Minnesota lined up on their own 41 yard line on 3rd down and 24 with eight seconds left in the first half. Daunte Culpepper was forced out of the pocket and barely got the pass off as Denver’s Reggie Hayward leveled him. Randy Moss caught it and was about to be tackled at the 15-yard line, but he alertly flipped the ball over his right shoulder to a streaking Moe Williams who put Minnesota up 14–7 at halftime. The Vikings went on to win, 28–20.

2018 — Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions: With 2 seconds left to play in the first half, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins completed a 44-yard pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph, who managed to make the catch[50] despite being held by DeShawn Shead[citation needed]. The Vikings went into halftime up 14-9 and eventually won 27-9.

I know what you’re thinking. No Minneapolis Miracle? That play was more of a broken play than an actual Hail Mary, especially as the touchdown came after a shorter pass and yards after the catch than the traditional send everyone and heave it into the end-zone.

Either way, it’s interesting that the Vikings have been part of this much history in the NFL (and that it isn’t all bad!) and was something I thought would be worth adding as content for those who want some sort of bar trivia / reason to hate the Packers more than they already do.