Three days after Christmas in 1975 the Dallas Cowboys were faced with ending their season by losing the NFC Divisional Playoff Game. The 10-4 Cowboys were playing the 12-2 Minnesota Vikings. Down by four with the ball on their own 15-yard line and a minute fifty-one left on the clock, Roger Staubach mounted a nine-play drive to get to midfield. With 24 seconds left and no time outs, Staubach took the snap in the shotgun formation, pump-faked left and then turned right to fire a desperation pass to Drew Pearson. Vikings cornerback Nate Wright lost his footing as Pearson trapped the pass against his right hip at the five-yard line and went into the end zone backwards. The point after was good and the Cowboys won the game 17-14.
The Cowboys would go on to play Pittsburgh in Super Bowl X, becoming the first wild card team to play for the championship.
Following the game in Minnesota, Staubach said to reporters, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”
From thence came the term “Hail Mary Pass,” now a commonly used metaphor that means taking one last desperation shot in the face of all but certain doom.
Tuesday’s election is the GOP’s Hail Mary. It represents the Republican Party’s last chance to prove that it is capable of governing. The game, meaning in this illustration the United States of America, is on the line. Time is nearly out and we’re trailing on the scoreboard.
Unless the Republicans in the House mount a serious and principled effort to scale back the size of government, eviscerate Obamacare, curtail the regulatory burden facing business, reverse the automatic tax increase that will happen if the Bush tax cuts expire, dramatically cut spending and take concrete action to address Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the game will be lost and the GOP will never be taken seriously again.
Yes, Obama and Senate Democrats will thwart the Republicans in the House at every opportunity.
But the Vikings’ Nate Wright was a great cornerback and he tried to do the same thing. That didn’t deter Staubach. The beauty of the Staubach years was the fact that Staubach was in the game with everything he had until the very last second ticked off the clock. Lesser quarterbacks, facing the superior Vikings defense and with no time left, might have just gone through the motions. Staubach gave it all he had. That’s what defined Staubach and by extension, the Cowboys.
The Republican House majority of the 112th Congress will be defined by the same measure.
Defenses in the NFL feared and respected Roger Staubach and his Dallas Cowboys.
If the country is to survive, Democrats in Washington must feel the same way about John Boehner and the House Republicans. The Republicans must give it everything they have starting right now. Whatever the Democrats do in defense, the Republicans must still try.
Boehner has the ball and America has one last shot.
Let’s all close our eyes and say a Hail Mary.