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Here’s How Alex Smith Throws a Hail Mary; It’s Awesome

A notorious check-down artist can still score a 56-yard touchdown with time expiring

Kansas City Chiefs v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When Alex Smith throws 56-yard Hail Marys, the ball travels just 20 yards.

That’s the newest trick in Andy Reid’s playbook. The Chiefs faced a second-and-3 from their 44-yard line with two seconds on the clock in the first half, which is basically fourth-and-56. The Cowboys lined up in a prevent defense to stop the imminent Hail Mary.

Well, Dallas thought it was imminent. As usual, Reid had other ideas.

With the Cowboys rushing three and putting seven defenders near the goal line, Smith dumped the ball to a wide-open Tyreek Hill 20 yards down the field. The Chiefs put three blockers in front of Hill, drawing up a play that basically turned into a punt return, or a wide receiver screen through a funhouse mirror.

Hill caught the ball without a single defender in the camera frame between the Kansas City 45 and the Dallas 30.


Hill began jogging at the Cowboys’ 35-yard line, paralyzing the defensive backs. He let his blockers attack as the Dallas defenders let up, turning an eight-on-four situation into an open-field nightmare for the Cowboys. Still, the Cowboys’ massive numbers advantage should have enabled them to corral him. But Hill, one of the most dynamic athletes in the league, managed to dart through eight Cowboys to get into the end zone.


Lesson no. 1: Reid is the most creative play-caller in football—announcer Tony Romo began screaming giddily that he had never seen a play call like it. Lesson no. 2: stop using the prevent defense.