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Cowboys prepare to defend against Green Bay’s Hail Mary play

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 08:  Randall Cobb #18 of the Green Bay Packers catches a touchdown pass in the second quarter during the NFC Wild Card game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Packers’ Hail Mary play is so effective when defenses know it’s coming that the Packers should use it when defenses aren’t expecting it. The Cowboys for now are focused on stopping it when they know they need to.

It’s a jump ball,” cornerback Brandon Carr said, via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “It’s a free for all. It’s a do-whatever-you-can to not let those guys catch the ball.”

The Giants failed to do that on Sunday, allowing receiver Randall Cobb to get behind them when they knew a Hail Mary was coming.

“Got to box out,” Carr said. “Got to put a body on a body. Just comes to discipline on that play. One jumper. Everybody else is boxing their man out.”

“Believe it or not, we work on it pretty much every day,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said. “Pretty much every day is not too much that goes by in the NFL that we don’t work on. We don’t even have to . . . learn by mistake or something like that because coach [Jason] Garrett does a good job of when it happens to one team, he brings it back up to us the next week, and we’re already working on it.”

Plenty of teams work on it. That makes Green Bay’s ability to pull off Hail Mary touchdowns even more impressive. And that makes me even more convinced it should be part of the base offense, with the play periodically coming when the Packers have the ball near the 50.

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37 Responses to “Cowboys prepare to defend against Green Bay’s Hail Mary play”
  1. shaggytoodle says: Jan 10, 2017 8:54 PM

    I am not saying GB is flying under the radar I think everyone knows how they have been playing lately but it just seems since Sunday, all thats been talked about from the game have been the boat trip/OBJ, Jordy Nelson, and the Hail Mary.

  2. packsupersoldier says: Jan 10, 2017 8:55 PM

    I hope the Cowboys spend as much time as possible preparing for a play that only occurs once per several hundred snaps.

  3. endzonepete says: Jan 10, 2017 8:56 PM

    Green Bay doesn’t need to game plan anymore. They’re just going to throw the Hail Mary every play.

  4. chino1985 says: Jan 10, 2017 8:58 PM

    Jump ball really is nothing but luck. Rodgers is great but come on now.

  5. philcodean says: Jan 10, 2017 8:58 PM

    Good luck.

  6. cribbage12 says: Jan 10, 2017 9:05 PM

    It’ll be Dallas needing the Hail Mary in this game…

    GoPackGo!!!

  7. sportnik2 says: Jan 10, 2017 9:06 PM

    Oh boy. It looks like Green Bay already has the Cowboys beat.

    Maybe when the Cowboys perfect defending the Hail Mary, they can work on thier onside kick coverage. The Cowboys will have their hands full stopping the Green Bay offense, if they are worried about a play that has a 1% chance of occurring on Sunday they are preparing to fail.

  8. bleck5 says: Jan 10, 2017 9:21 PM

    Hard to defend against push offs.

  9. davidsterlingblog says: Jan 10, 2017 9:24 PM

    chino1985 says:
    Jan 10, 2017 8:58 PM
    Jump ball really is nothing but luck. Rodgers is great but come on now.

    ————————————

    It actually isn’t luck at all. It requires a QB with a strong arm and solid aim, and further a game plan from the receivers to box out and catch – just as Carr said in the article. The reason it doesn’t work often is because most QBs aren’t going to be able to heave a ball that far and put it on the money, usually the pass is off the mark.

    Another point, if it’s luck, good god the Packers are lucky. 3-3 on hail mary’s in their last 3 attempts?

  10. Carl Gerbschmidt says: Jan 10, 2017 9:47 PM

    So many people telling me that we can’t beat Dallas. Look, I know it’s a huge task, but people, we are #WARRIORS We will never give up

  11. tebow420 says: Jan 10, 2017 10:02 PM

    Somebody better call the fire department!

  12. tedmurph says: Jan 10, 2017 10:04 PM

    No team should have to prepare against a hail mary pass. They should know better. In high school. If the D gets beat on a play like that, they screwed up. Period.

  13. yooperman says: Jan 10, 2017 10:10 PM

    Sunday should be a good game.
    I just hope Triplette is vacationing in London.

  14. bleedingfacemask says: Jan 10, 2017 10:19 PM

    Hey Cowboys, the Packers will be the first to tell you: do NOT try to catch it.

  15. shaggytoodle says: Jan 10, 2017 10:27 PM

    Jump Ball isn’t ALL about luck, first of all you need to get it into the end zone, Richard Rodgers, caught his clean, Cobb caught his clean. and Janis whom hard the hardest of the catches came down with minimal resistance.

    I have seen other “hail marys” take much more luck to get completed than the 3 of GBs combined.

    There is a science, and skills that allow someone to able to get positioning on ‘jump balls” and I don’t think Randy Moss made a career based on his “luck”

  16. therealtrenches says: Jan 10, 2017 10:31 PM

    Agreed with chino1985: this idea that Rodgers is the “master of the hail mary” is silly. If anything, the receivers who catch hail mary passes in large groups of players are the ones who deserve the applause. The QB is just puttin’ the ball up for grabs.

  17. judsonjr says: Jan 10, 2017 10:36 PM

    As a Packer fan, I don’t think you need to practice this. General advice is:

    #1 – Don’t just rush 3 or 4 and allow Rodgers a free run so that he can get a ton of air on the ball.

    #2 – Be aware of the one guy trailing 10-15 yards behind the rest of the receivers. Two of the 3 passes were caught by these trailing guys who ultimately positioned themselves in front of the crowd.

    Arizona probably had the best idea, but went a bit overboard rushing 7. If the Packers had 60 yards to go it would have worked, but because the Packers were only 40 yards out, Rodgers was able to retreat almost 15 yards to get the throw off…leaving the end zone pretty sparsely covered (3 WR vs. 4 defenders).

  18. beerbratscheese says: Jan 10, 2017 10:37 PM

    I loved Randall Cobb’s hail mary catch last week. He was able to maintain possession while going to the ground. Dez Bryant could learn a lot from watching that play.

  19. bassplucker says: Jan 10, 2017 10:48 PM

    Are they also preparing for their pass rushers to be tackled to the ground by the Packers OL whenever Rodgers scrambles?

    I despise the Cowboys and the Packers equally but nobody in the NFL gets more help from the officials than Aaron Rodgers. Nobody.

  20. Packernet says: Jan 10, 2017 10:51 PM

    Now the Packers have teams worried about a hail mary. That is hilarious.

  21. jason9696 says: Jan 10, 2017 11:20 PM

    Aaron Rodger has completed 3 or 4 Hail Mary’s in the last year or so. That’s just crazy.

  22. youafool says: Jan 11, 2017 12:17 AM

    Dallas takes opening drive for td and never looks back bring on the birds

  23. magikskillz says: Jan 11, 2017 12:26 AM

    Part of the problem is that teams rush 3 and let the receivers have enough time to get to the endzone and give Aaron Rodgers all day to throw. Against Rodgers you always need to rush at least 4 guys and preferable 5. If you don’t your defense has to cover for 5-10 seconds.

  24. dwhitehurst says: Jan 11, 2017 12:51 AM

    A Dallas fan needs to fill me in: Might that gigantor of a screen in Dallas’ stadium get in the way of one of Rodger’s Hail Mary drop from the sky throws anyways?

  25. overthedwaynebowe says: Jan 11, 2017 12:57 AM

    Trust me Cowboys….the Hail Mary is the last thing you will be worrying about when you get blown out by a real Super Bowl contender..

  26. dwhitehurst says: Jan 11, 2017 1:02 AM

    Oh, and here’s hoping for a clean game, no cheap shots, and no bad officiating calls affecting the outcome. Last time around, it took the luster out of the Packers playoff victory over Dallas given that catch rule and how it resulted in Bryant’s catch to be ruled incomplete. Right call perhaps, but definitely a bad rule.

    Doubt we beat Dallas this time around, Hail Mary’s or not. But regardless of the outcome, I am proud to be a Packer fan–proud of what they did second half of season, and think Rodgers is the MVP even though Matt Ryan will get the award for understandable reasons.

  27. guessthenguessagain says: Jan 11, 2017 2:13 AM

    I’ve seen GB pull this off successfully on three occasions. Each time, Packer players cover the back of the end zone, so they are able to see the entire play happen in front of them. A huge advantage when you get to the body on body part.

    It’s not rocket science. I’m surprised that opposing coaches have not been able to figure this out.

  28. njpackerfan says: Jan 11, 2017 2:34 AM

    The way Rodgers throws the “hail mary” the cowboys should use their punter for the practice.

  29. fttr2013 says: Jan 11, 2017 3:34 AM

    In Aussie rules football the high arcing ball into the middle of a pack of players is quite common. Players are taught to defend it by attacking the ball with a fist thereby punching it away to ensure it can’t be caught.

    Also, in Aussie rules what Cobb did before he caught it is known as a “push in the back” and is considered a penalty.

  30. discosucs2005 says: Jan 11, 2017 4:16 AM

    Luck certainly plays a factor, but it’s clear Rodgers throws it perfectly, and his WRs do a great job of timing their jumps to give themselves a good opportunity.

    I doubt they’ll work it into their regular offense given the possibility for a turnover tends to be higher on long passes (even perfectly thrown ones), but I do think it changes how they play the end of the half. They might be increasingly willing to drive a bit late in the half even from deep in their own territory, where most teams will either run or kneel it out.

    Regardless, as a football fan, I hope we see at least one attempt because it’s always exciting to watch.

  31. southpackalacky says: Jan 11, 2017 6:02 AM

    Green Bay doesn’t need to game plan anymore. They’re just going to throw the Hail Mary every play.

    Isn’t that all Matt Ryan does? Throw it deep, hope Julio catches it?

  32. fordman84 says: Jan 11, 2017 8:26 AM

    Refs don’t call pushing and shoving in there, so just body your man out of bounds.

  33. teal379 says: Jan 11, 2017 9:00 AM

    It’s not luck.

    You have to throw it as high as possible while still getting the distance you need.

    Ball comes down like a punt which is why so many people misjudge the catch and when to go up and get it.

    Aaron put that ball within 1 yard of the back of the endzone, behind the crowd. That’s by design and when you go 3/3 on them – that’s not luck but a practiced skill. Takes a QB who is accurate on the move and can throw the ball 60 yards with precision.

  34. aypeeswhippingstick says: Jan 11, 2017 10:24 AM

    Short Pass Master Bradford could maybe throw a 30 yard hail mary pass Viking fans.

  35. purpleguy says: Jan 11, 2017 12:46 PM

    Wasn’t gonna comment till I saw the lame post above (even if Bradford was one of the most effective QBs when he had time to throw downfield — just look at the two Vike/Pack games this year). If you want to see how to defend a Packer Hail Mary pass, simply review the games where the Vikes defended it in their last couple of wins over the Pack. All they did was keep the Pack WRs in front of them and bat it away — ain’t rocket science. And yes, I know the Pack is in the playoffs and the Vikes aren’t.

  36. The Almighty Cabbage says: Jan 11, 2017 12:52 PM

    bleck5 says:
    Jan 10, 2017 9:21 PM

    Hard to defend against push offs.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“

    Go back and read the article, especially the part where they talk about “boxing out” and “putting a body on a body.”

    When defenders start pushing with their backsides, the receiver is allowed to push back. And technically, the “putting a body on a body” is DPI except for the one or two defenders that have a legitimate shot at the ball and IF the “boxing out” occurs AS they’re going for the ball, not as soon as the ball is in the air.

    The defenders don’t get to mug the receivers at will, no matter how badly you wish that were so.

  37. crazygamercaden says: Jan 11, 2017 3:41 PM

    Doesn’t Byron Jones have the ability to jump a mile high in the air? I am not afraid of a Hail Mary I am afraid of Aaron Rodger’s Pocket Presence.

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