In the Playoffs that year when the Vikings and Cowboys faced each other with the Vikings a solid favorite in the game. They did not disappoint for 59 minutes and 28 seconds of the game it looked like the Vikings would fulfill their immense promise. Down 14-10 with 32 seconds left in the game, with the line of scrimmage right on the 50 yard line, Roger Staubach and the Cowboys needed a miracle. It came in the forum of a desperation heave by Staubach that was caught by Drew Pearson who then went into the endzone for an improbable score that gave the Cowboys a 17-14 win and eventually launched them into the Super Bowl as the first ever Wildcard team in the Championship game.
In that Super Bowl, one of the “Dirty Dozen,” Percy Howard, has a remarkable footnote. He caught a TD pass in Super Bowl X for the only catch of his entire NFL career. He almost became a legend though. A last second desperation heave by Roger was intended for Percy, but was tipped and picked off by Steelers Safety Glen Edwards. Time expired on that play.
Asked about the pass later Roger Staubach would say, “I just closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.” That launched the popularity of the phrase for a desperation score. Had Percy caught the 2nd one, the original might not be as memorable.
The Minnesota Vikings CB on the play was a man named Nate Wright. I have had the good pleasure to meet Nate several times where I live in Tucson, Arizona. He is an absolute gentleman. When he found out I was a Cowboys fan, and I found out he was number 43 who was on the ground on the play we had a very fun conversation. He swears that he fell down because Drew Pearson pushed off. I met Drew Pearson too, and he says he couldn’t have pushed off because the ball was under thrown and he was reaching back for it.