In the end, the Ravens wide receiver fell short against the two “Dancing With The Stars” powerhouses, Zendaya and Kellie Pickler. Pickler was crowned the Season 16 champion.
But just reaching the final three was a tremendous accomplishment, and a bit of an upset.
Jones and partner Karina Smirnoff had the lowest score (56) in the first night of the finals. He got nothing but 9s from the judges.
The duo must have gotten a voting boost from Ravens fans and other lovers of his high-flying, high-energy style, propelling him past U.S. Olympian Aly Raisman.
Jones and Smirnoff were both surprised that they were the ones who survived the first cut.
“All my life I had to fight,” Jones said.
Getting into the top three meant Jones got one more “instant dance” Tuesday night. It was a salsa that encapsulated the flavor Jones brought to the entire season and earned a perfect score from the judges.
“You have the power, man, and you’ve got the spice of life,” judge Bruno Tonioli said. “Oh my God, charisma, showmanship. Look at the reaction from the audience and I’m with them. I’ll tell you, I could watch you anytime.”
Over the course of the show, Jones went from a pigeon-toed shaker to a polished, powerful dancer. And he put it all together in his last performance of the season.
“It’s not where you start, as you know. It’s where you finish,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba said. “And tonight, once again, you have proven why you are still here. You are a champion. That was the dance of a champion.”
The ultra-competitive Jones had his sights set on the Mirror Ball Trophy from the start, but faced especially tough competition this season.
Zendaya, a 16-year-old Disney star with a dancing background, and Pickler, a country singer and former “American Idol” contestant, were consistently the show’s leaders.
Even before Tuesday’s elimination Jones said it would take “the grace of God” to defeat them. And both also got perfect scores in their last instant dances. Zendaya got nothing but perfect scores in her four dances in the finals.
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy had a total score of 95 in the two-night finals. Pickler and Derek Hough posted a 94 and Jones and Smirnoff notched an 86.
Jones fell short of previous NFL “Dancing With The Stars” champions: former Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver, Steelers wideout Hines Ward and Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith. But the Raven beat former linebacker Lawrence Taylor, wide receiver Michael Irvin, quarterback Kurt Warner, and wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
Now Jones will return to the football field and organized team activities. After getting his final perfect score, Jones delivered a touchdown dance.
He’s coming home to Baltimore, Ravens fans.
“All my training that I’ve had, I never had a woman push me like she did,” Jones said after his elimination. “When I go back, all this gracefulness, footwork and everything, I’ll be catching a ball like this [stretches out gracefully].”