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

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.

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

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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”

  7. 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.

  8. 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).

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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?

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!