The Art of the Hail Mary

Chuck Nice and Gary O'Reilly break down the "Miracle at Michigan" in the Playing with Science Studio. Credit: Ben Ratner.

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About This Episode

The Hail Mary pass is one of the most exciting plays you’ll ever see in any sport. This week, in another of our “off-season” episodes we’re presenting with TuneIn, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice look at one of the greatest, the “Miracle at Michigan,” with the man who threw it, Kordell Stewart. You’ll get a firsthand account of the play from Stewart, who was the quarterback for the Colorado Buffaloes in 1994 when they came from behind to beat the University of Michigan Wolverines just as time expired. Find out what Kordell did to “stretch time” so his receivers could get down the field, what he was thinking when he let the ball loose, and what he says went wrong with the pass. Next, Chuck and Gary explore the science of the 71-yard play with returning physicist John Eric Goff. They examine the play in terms of release velocity when Kordell Stewart let it fly, the 45 degree angle the ball needed to reach its target, and the 600 RPM rate of spin the ball needed for stability. But if one Hail Mary is good, three are better, so Gary, Chuck and Eric take a look two more game-winning, come-from-behind Hail Mary passes: Doug Flutie’s “Miracle in Miami” (or Hail Flutie) in November 1984 where Boston College beat the University of Miami Hurricanes, and Aaron Rogers “Miracle in Motown” in Dec. 2015 when the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions (although, during the episode, the guys mistakenly refer to this as Rogers’ other Hail Mary that season, in the January 2016 playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals). You’ll also hear why Kordell Stewart was the “quarterback of the future” when he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and how most quarterbacks today follow in his footsteps. Plus, Gary spills the beans on the “Hail Mary conspiracy” and Chuck asks Eric to explain how that kid on YouTube can catch his own 40-yard pass.

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NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Art of the Hail Mary.

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  • Darren

    Again, Chuck needs to shut up and let people talk.

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