OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Jacoby Jones, the return specialist and receiver who made perhaps the most memorable play in franchise history and who sparked the Ravens to their second Super Bowl title, officially retired as a Baltimore Raven Sept. 29.
Jones, 33, has not played in the NFL since the 2015 season, when he split time with the San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Jones spent his first five seasons with the Houston Texans after they made him a third-round draft pick out of Lane College in 2007.
Jones was let go by the Texans after the 2011 season -- his last game was a playoff loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium -- and then he signed with the Ravens as a free agent.
In three years with the Ravens, Jones had four regular-season kickoff return touchdowns, a franchise record, and one punt return score. He had three kick returns of 108 yards, also a franchise record, including one in Super Bowl XLVII. Jones also holds franchise records for kick return average in a game (53.0), season (30.7, 2012) and career (30.1). He made the Pro Bowl as a return specialist in 2012.
As a receiver, Jones never put up big numbers with the Ravens, averaging 25 catches and 331 yards in his three seasons with the team. But he had perhaps the biggest catch in franchise history.
With the Ravens trailing the Denver Broncos, 35-28, in the final minute of their AFC playoff game Jan. 12, 2013,, quarterback Joe Flacco stepped into a throw and connected with Jones, who had somehow slipped behind the Denver defense down the right sideline. The "
Mile High Miracle
" tied the game at 35 with 31 seconds left, and the Ravens went on to win in double overtime.
Recounting that play at his retirement news conference, Jones said the Ravens would often run a two-minute drill in practice, and Flacco would tell Jones and fellow receiver Torrey Smith to "just run." Flacco would hold the ball, stare at tight end Dennis Pitta, and then throw the ball over Ed Reed's head. "Every time. Ed would be hot."
So when it happened in the game," Jones continued," … I said, 'Man, that worked! It really happened like that!' "
The win propelled the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game, which they won at New England, and then on to the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers.
During the Super Bowl in his hometown of New Orleans, Jones shined again, and he was a strong candidate for the Super Bowl MVP Award won by Flacco. Jones caught a 56-yard touchdown pass late in the first that gave the Ravens a 21-3 lead, and then he returned the second-half kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown. His total of 290 yards (206 on kickoff returns, 28 on punt returns and 56 receiving) set a Super Bowl record.
"Jacoby, in the biggest game, on the biggest stage, had his best game in his hometown, and that's surreal," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said.
Asked for his favorite play as a Raven, Jones said it was none of his touchdowns, but rather the last play of the Super Bowl, when "they tackled that dude and the [scoreboard] said all zeroes, and I knew I was a champion."
Perhaps it's fitting Jones is retiring the week the Pittsburgh Steelers are coming to town; one of his most memorable plays at M&T Bank Stadium came against the Steelers. In 2013, Jones took a kickoff and darted up the left sideline and seemed to be headed for the end zone. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, standing at the edge of the field, appeared to step onto the field and force Jones to slow up, and he was caught from behind after a 73-yard return. Tomlin was later fined $100,000.
Jones also gained popularity for his stint on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2013.
"Everything has to come to an end," Jones said, "but at least it's here."
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox