When Baltimore native Cyrus Jones was signed by the Ravens, he imagined there would be special moments like Sunday afternoon.
Jones returned a punt 70 yards for a touchdown, giving Baltimore a 10-7 lead against the Oakland Raiders early in the second quarter. It was Jones' first career touchdown and it brought the M&T Bank Stadium crowd to its feet.
Cutting to his right, Jones found daylight down the sideline and received a key block from wide receiver Chris Moore on the way to the end zone.
"To do it in Baltimore, that's a life-long dream in front of my hometown," Jones said. "I mean it's an unbelievable feeling. I've been through a lot. I can't really put it into words. I'm going to sit back and relish it for this night and get back to work on the next week."
It was the kind of play Jones made with regularity during his prep career at Gilman School, on his way to a stellar college career at Alabama. But Jones' transition to the NFL has featured ups and downs.
He was a second-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2016, seen as a top cornerback prospect with obvious skills as a returner. However, Jones fumbled five times as a rookie, then suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2017.
The Patriots waived Jones in early September and he was signed by the Ravens to their practice squad. That started a back-and-forth for Jones between the two teams. New England re-signed him off the Ravens' practice squad on Sept. 19. The Patriots waived Jones again on Oct. 6. The Ravens re-signed him on Oct. 8.
Since his return, Jones has been sure-handed fielding punts and his running on returns has been decisive. The Ravens' punt return situation was in flux earlier this season, but Jones has returned to his hometown and found a home on special teams. He also saw action at cornerback Sunday, which could continue moving forward.
"I wasn't really dwelling on not playing much defense," Jones said. "I would rather take my time and get out there than to not know what I'm doing and be rushed out there. Timing is everything,[comma] and like I said,[comma] I'm just going to try to keep making the most of my opportunities, whatever they are."