The term 'Hail Mary' was first used in reference to a football pass play in a 1975 NFC playoff game when Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach connected with Drew Pearson for a shocking, game-winning, 50 yard reception. The Minnesota Vikings seemed to have the game under control, but with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter Staubach launched a seemingly desperate bomb that he later described as a "Hail Mary pass", and Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson appeared to push off Vikings cornerback Nate Wright ;o) to catch the underthrown ball for the game-winning touchdown. (what can I say, I'm a Vikings fan)
Cowboys fans will enjoy the following URL which contains a great description of this historic football play.
And an audio clip of Drew Pearson describing the controversy of whether he pushed off or not can be heard at