Jacoby Jones' big kickoff return, TD prove he's special to Ravens
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NEW ORLEANS -- Teams usually put their stars on the stage for Media Day at the Super Bowl, but the Ravens had one Pro Bowl player who was not given a raised platform. Jacoby Jones, elected as the AFC's top special-teams player, instead roamed around the field without so much as a nametag to identify him.
"That's fine," Jones said of the possible slight. "I like the walking around and mingling a little bit. I like to fly under the radar. I'm used to it. I love it."
Besides, Jones was preparing for a bigger stage. The New Orleans native scored two touchdowns for the Ravens -- a 56-yard reception and a 108-yard kickoff return -- in Sunday night's Super Bowl XLVII.
Both scores were on exciting plays. The 56-yard catch came late in the second quarter when he ran past Chris Culliver on a double move and caught a deep pass from Joe Flacco. Jones was so open that he caught the ball while falling backward at the 8, landing on his back. Culliver, catching up to the play, ran past Jones on the turf without touching him, so Jones hustled to his feet and ran across the field and into the end zone to complete the scoring play.
Jones' second touchdown came on the opening kickoff of the second half. He took David Akers' kick deep in the end zone, and instead of taking a knee, he brought it out up the middle. Jones made defender Darcel McBath miss at the 20 on a bad angle and went the rest of the 80 yards untouched.
Jones spoke this past week about the limited opportunities he was expecting in the kickoff and punt games against the 49ers.
"Akers has got a really strong leg," Jones said. "He can kick out of the end zone and that punter [Andy Lee], he's a climber, too. So you've got to be patient and wait on your opportunities."
Jones' kickoff return was the longest in Super Bowl history. In Super Bowl XLI, Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Jones was in Indianapolis training for the NFL Combine when Hester made that run, but he said he thought about the play "hundreds of times" as he prepared for this game.
"On returns that go for a touchdown, they happen when you least expect it," he said. "In games like this, we just want to work for good drive starts and field position. So if one pops open, that's a blessing."
It's not Hester he tries to model himself after, though, but a return man from a generation earlier.
"My idol is Prime Time," Jones said of Deion Sanders. "I grew up watching him as a kid. It was him and Peter Warrick. When I watched the way they returned kicks and punts, I kind of put my game with their moves, too, and put it all together."