Ravens' Jacoby Jones catches legendary status after miracle play

January 13, 2013|Kevin Cowherd

I want to ask Jacoby Jones what we should call that one.

I want to know if he's thought of a name for the play, the one that still has all of Baltimore buzzing today and all of Denver practically catatonic.

You can't call it "The Catch" or the "Immaculate Reception" because it wasn't a great catch and it sure wasn't flawless and without blemish.

This play was more like Jones thinking: Dear God, please don't let me drop this, because I'll never live it down and will be forced to live in an ashram with Ricky Williams for the rest of my life to escape the eternal shame.

But Jones didn't drop that long pass from Joe Flacco on Saturday night in the meat locker that was Denver's Sports Authority Field.

And because of that, the Ravens play the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship for the second year in a row Sunday — in another winter paradise, no less, this one in Foxborough, Mass.

Before we talk about how valuable Jones has been for the Ravens this season, let's go over that miracle play one more time.

How could you forget the situation? Ravens trail the Broncos, 35-28, waning seconds of the fourth quarter, Ravens needing to go 70 yards for a touchdown with no timeouts remaining.

On third-and-3, Flacco takes the snap, does this little flamenco dance in the pocket. Now he feels the pressure, steps forward and throws a Hail Mary down the right sideline.

The ball seems to hang in the dishwater-gray sky forever, then begins its descent as Jones waits patiently for it to arrive.

In front of him, Broncos safety Rahim Moore stumbles backward and falls like a drunk at last call. Denver corner Tony Carter is behind Moore, Jones having streaked by him seconds earlier.

Now, for Jones, it's just: don't blow it.

He'd already had an earlier drop. But if you want to last in the NFL as a wide receiver, you get over the drops in a hurry.

You have what they call selective amnesia. Forget the bad stuff you've done. Focus on the good stuff. Besides, Jones does not exactly want for confidence, as we'll see in a moment.

So he waits for the ball, gathers it in like a man scooping a load of firewood in his arms, and turns around. And now there is nothing between him and the end zone except gray, frozen turf.

As he crosses the goal line, he appears to be blowing kisses to the stunned crowd, which is now so quiet you'd think 76,000 fans have just had their mouths duct-taped.

Except ... apparently Jones isn't taunting the crowd with those kisses.

"I was kissing to God," Jones told reporters after the game. "I was thanking the Lord. I don't disbelieve in myself. I've been believing in myself since I was born. Never no disbelief."

Whether he's making up that stuff about kissing God or not, the Ravens believe in Jacoby Jones now, too. You can bet on that.

They signed him last May as a return specialist, and all he did was lead the NFL with a 30.7 kickoff return average, 1,167 yards and two touchdowns to make the Pro Bowl.

Not only that, but he caught 30 passes for 406 yards and a touchdown, giving the Ravens the outside burner they needed to book-end with Torrey Smith as another down-field threat.

For Jones, it's turned out to be the classic redemption story, a three-hankie job, depending on who's telling the story.

A third-round pick with the Houston Texans in 2007, he'd pretty much been a bust as a receiver. And he seemed to seal his fate with a muffed punt in the playoffs last year against — you gotta love this — the Ravens that led to a Baltimore touchdown.

But the Ravens welcomed him with open arms and he fit into the team's culture right away. You know how we're always hearing about spoiled professional athletes and the culture of entitlement they revel in?

Not so with Jones. From the beginning, he worked hard. And he was one of the prominent newcomers, along with cornerback Corey Graham, who made it clear how grateful he was for a second chance.

"Those guys always say 'Thanks for the opportunity,' they always say that," John Harbaugh said after the win Saturday night. "... Even today they both said" it.

Now Jones and Flacco have combined on a huge play to help keep the Ravens' season alive, help the Ray Lewis Farewell Tour pick up stakes and hit another town next weekend.

Maybe it doesn't matter what we call that play.

Maybe it's just enough that we saw it. And that we'll never forget it.



Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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