NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans boasts some of the world’s famous restaurants, from Galatoire’s to Commander’s Palace to Brennan’s.
Yet, when Ravens receiver – and New Orleans native – Jacoby Jones was asked by his teammates where to go eat upon their arrival in the Crescent City for Super Bowl XLVII, there was only one possible answer.
“Everybody was like, ‘Where’s the best place to eat?’ ” Jones said Tuesday, reporter’s circling him. “I was like, ‘My momma’s house.’ ”
And so Monday night, Jones’ mother brought in 150 plates and bowls of gumbo, jambalaya, potato salad, lemon chicken and macaroni.
But it’s not the home-cooking that Jones was looking forward to the most.
He always imagined playing in the Super Bowl. Doing it in his home town? Well that’s something else.
“Super Bowl? Yes,” said Jones, who prepped at Abramson High School. “Superdome? That’s a blessing.”
If not for Jones, the Ravens wouldn’t be getting that home-cooked meal and he wouldn’t be vying for an NFL championship where he was born.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound receiver got behind Denver’s secondary with less than a minute to play in their Jan. 12 AFC divisional round game. The space his speed created gave quarterback Joe Flacco the room he needed to fit a pass into Jones’ hands for the game-tying touchdown.
The 70-yard touchdown pass, more than any punt return or any other touchdown, is the greatest play in Jones’ young career.
“It’s probably the biggest play in my career,” Jones said. “It happened at the right time. The o-line did a great job blocking for Joe and Joe let that thing go.”
He added, “I see how shallow the safety was sitting. I just came off the ball hauling butt. I looked and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m behind him. This is over with.’ ”
Jones caught 30 passes for 406 yards and a touchdown this season and had a 9.2 yard average on punt returns, including a score. His emergence has helped up the Ravens offense.
“He has been able to make some big catches for us, some big plays,” Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “He has done some things that you may not be able to see in terms of his blocking down the field. He’s a tough, competitive guy. He has helped us stretch the field quite a bit and change up coverages that we see from week to week because everybody has to be concerned with him.”
The play in Denver allowed him and Baltimore to reach this point, one win away from taking home the Lombardi Trophy.
While that may make some players stressed, Jones was anything but on Tuesday during the Super Bowl’s annual media day event.
He was one of the first Ravens out on the field for the session. He walked from end zone to end zone, taking in the sights, veering towards the stands where fans greeted him with cheers, hoots and hollers. At one point, he stood behind the Poydras Street end zone, staring at the field and the painted Ravens design.
It’s a far cry from where he was in early May. After five years with Houston, the team that drafted him out of Lane College, Jones was let go by the Texans. A week later, Baltimore picked him up.
Jones, for what it’s worth, doesn’t hold any ill will towards Houston, where he put up 15 combined touchdowns (11 receiving, three punt, one kickoff).
“It was fine,” Jones said. “They molded me. I appreciate them giving me the opportunity to play in the NFL. It’s all good. It’s life. I appreciate it.”
If that sounds a bit humble, it’s likely because Jones comes across as such. In the offseason, he’ll spend time living at home with his mother in New Orleans East.
Asked why he hasn’t bought a house, he exclaimed, “I’m not buying a place. That’s too much money. I’m cheap.”
Jones signed a two-year contract with the Ravens in May. Another year like this one and he might not have to be worried about being cheap much longer.