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41 Years Since Cowboys' Original, Rodgers Has Perfected New Hail Mary

FRISCO, Texas – Forty-one years since he and Roger Staubach delivered the NFL's original Hail Mary, Drew Pearson still enjoys hearing the term when watching a game on TV.

It was Pearson's 50-yard catch from Staubach in the final seconds of the 1975 divisional round that lifted the Cowboys past the Minnesota Vikings, 17-14.

"Every time I hear them say that word I smile because they use it so much nowadays," Pearson said. "And you heard it over the weekend with Aaron Rodgers and that play."

But this Sunday, the Cowboys' Ring of Honor member certainly wouldn't want to see a repeat of Rodgers' momentum-changing Hail Mary in last week's wild-card win over the New York Giants.

The Green Bay Packers' star quarterback and receivers have essentially perfected the art of the deep "Hail Mary" throw and catch. Rodgers has completed three in the last two seasons: a 42-yarder to take a 14-6 halftime lead last Sunday against the Giants; a 61-yarder to beat the Detroit Lions on the final play in December 2015; and a 41-yarder a month later to force overtime in an eventual divisional-round loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Pearson's play was a little different. He beat Vikings cornerback Nate Wright one on one down the right sideline for the score. Rodgers' three Hail Marys all have been heaves toward end zone in a crowd of receivers and opposing defenders.

In Sunday's divisional-round matchup at AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys know they'll have to be ready for the situation if it arises.

"Believe it or not, we work on it pretty much every day," cornerback Mo Claiborne said. "It's not too much that goes by in the NFL that we don't work on it. We don't even have to been through it or learn it 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."

How do you defend it?

"You've just got to be on your guy," Claiborne said, "box them out, and you have certain guys that you have to box out and you have certain guys that you have to jump for the ball."

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