N.O. native scores two TDs on big plays
NEW ORLEANS — Emily Jones saw the seam, and her hallowed screams could not be stifled.
Not after Baltimore returner Jacoby Jones evaded the waist-high tackle of San Francisco safety Darcel McBath at his 12-yard line.
The wispy mother with the thick-rimmed glasses felt the welling in her lungs after her son broke into the clear.
The welling in her lungs continued when Jacoby opened up his stride, straightened his back and pumped his arms during a 108-yard kickoff return to open the second half of Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Sitting at the 10-yard line, in Section 117, Row 6, Emily Jones called for her son.
“Come to mama, come to mama, come to mama,” she said.
Trotting to the end zone,
Jacoby Jones snuck a little peek to his left during his kickoff return, which followed a 56-yard touchdown catch in the Ravens’ 34-31 victory Sunday night.
“It what’s you work for all offseason — through the mini-camps, the camps through the grind and sweat, the cramps, the cold tub, the hot tub,” Jones said. “It all paid off right here.”
Not too shabby for a kid from the Lower Ninth Ward.
It was the best balm of all to a mother flooded out of her home by four feet of murky water spilling over the levee during Hurricane Katrina.
She was the woman who cooked 80 quarts of gumbo, 120 servings of jambalaya, four gallons of green peas and 30 pounds of potato salad to feed the Ravens players and coaches Monday.
A year ago, though, the
redemptive story arc seemed far-fetched.
In January 2012, while still with the Houston Texans, Jones muffed a punt at his own 13-yard line in an AFC Divisional playoff game — ironically, against the Ravens. Baltimore scored a touchdown three plays later and won 20-13.
In May, he was put on
waivers, and the Ravens scooped him for a two-year, $7 million contract in a move largely to acquire his skills as a returner.
Fittingly, the investment reaped a healthy dividend on a return that Jones wanted most.
“They were not expecting a straight-up-the-middle return,” Jones said.
“We ran it straight down their throat.”
So, any sense of redemption would seem natural, right?
“That’s just the business of it,” Jones said. “(The Texans) took a chance on me, and I thank them.
“They gave me the opportunity to play football coming out of Lane College. It is what it is.”
But Jones’ skills as a receiver were considered largely a bust after the Texans selected him the third round out of Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., during the 2007 NFL draft.
Yet Jones proved invaluable late in the first half as the
Ravens faced a third-and-10 at their own 44-yard line.
After back-to-back incompletions, wide receivers coach Jim Hostler recommended a pump-action throw with Jones running deep on a post route.
“It was that perfect depth — third-and-10 where they could come up and bite on it,”
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said.
Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was more than
“That’s a pretty good idea,” he thought.
Jones worked out of the far right side of the formation against off coverage, bolting down field and breaking in on a deep post. Sliding forward in the pocket, Flacco put his throw on short trajectory to Jones.
Niners cornerback Chris Culliver misjudged its flight. Tumbling backward, Jones made his only grab of the night, against his chest. He rolled on his back, realizing his knee hadn’t touched the turf.
“Jacoby had great concentration, and I didn’t want to overthrow him but he came down with the ball,” Flacco said.
Jones sprang to his feet and saw McBath closing in.
So he pirouetted on one foot and took off, angling right past Culliver to dive into the end zone with 1:58 left in the first half, giving the Ravens a 21-3 lead.
“That was just backyard football,” Jones said of the move. “That’s just ‘catch me if you can,’ like playing freeze tag.”
A story that’s a far cry, too, from eight years ago, when Emily Jones left New Orleans on the eve of Katrina to watch Jones — an Abramson High graduate — play for Lane.
She only packed one change of clothes.
Emily Jones didn’t see her home again until October, and ultimately settled in Baton Rouge.
As for her job, overseeing financial aid at the University of New Orleans, that was briefly on hold, too.
While she moved back into her home, Emily Jones received a final measure of solace in seeing her son — who was only offered a track scholarship out of high school — craft the finest homecoming that could be scripted.
Granted, Emily Jones has a fine author in mind.
“We are God-fearing people, and we never give up,” Jones said.
“When the Texans made the final decision ... that they were going to release him, words were spoken to me that what is written has not come to pass.”
Until Sunday night.