Jacoby Jones showed a combination of beauty and power in Monday's 'Dancing With The Stars' quarterfinals, drawing rave reviews from the judges.
Problem is, the scores aren't yet reflecting that.
The couples each danced two performances this week, the second of which with an extra professional of the opposite sex.
Jones earned straight 9s for the second straight week on his first dance, a smooth Viennese Waltz, then set the place on fire with a Paso Doble and scored a 25.
He earned a combined score of 52, which is high, but just the fourth highest of the night out of six couples.
"Up until now you've been a pretender. You've become a contender tonight!" shouted judge Len Goodman, who has been the hardest on Jones.
In his rehearsal interview, Jones promised that his supportive mother, Emily London-Jones, who has been yelling at Goodman throughout the show, would give Goodman a kiss if he gave the couple a 10.
She can save it for another night.
Jones still has yet to earn a 10 even though some of his toughest competition has all broken into that territory. He's not at the bottom, but he's not keeping pace with the leaders.
Jones had aced the personality of his dances, not surprisingly showing plenty of character and fun during his routines. But his stumbling block has consistently been his technique.
Jones took a step in the right direction Monday night, nailing the graceful, controlled Viennese Waltz in Monday's quarterfinals.
Dancing to "It's A Man's World" by James Brown, Jones showed clean lines and his usual chemistry with partner Karina Smirnoff. He showed some flash by ripping his shirt off midway through the performance.
Here's what the judges had to say:
Carrie Ann: "Besides the shirt off part, which was fun, I thought that was absolutely stunning. The Viennese Waltz is about smooth and sort of making it all one level the whole way through, no choppiness. You're known for being so choppy and so aggressive and so fun. It was such a nice surprise to see you come out here with beautiful posture, elegance and grace."
Len Goodman: "I loved it! Oh yes. I was looking, you were cooking. Great footwork. Yes, thank you Jacoby!"
Bruno Tonioli: "Everybody thinks the Viennese Waltz is easy. It's actually very, very hard because it has to look simple and effortless. And yet it requires so much control. You lost it for a second, but I don't mind that at all. And momma is happy, I'll tell you that."
Jones' second dance was the fiery Paso Doble. He came out wearing black and gold, which was a peculiar choice considering it's the colors of the rival Steelers, and was tossing around his two partners in Smirnoff and guest professional Cheryl Burke.
Jones finished the dance with a running slide between their legs and his signature jackknife shoulder move that Ravens fans have seen after touchdowns.
Here's the judges' take:
Carrie Ann: "You have such an impressive presence on the field that when you hit those lines, it's like, 'Rar!' It was really good. But I felt kind of sorry for Cheryl, kind of. When you did the drag you kind of just tossed her. Then you got the cape and threw it on Chryl and got her foot stuck in it. The man is supposed to take care of the woman on the dance floor. We wanted a little more finesse than the tossing, but if you were trying to toss you tossed darn well."
Len Goodman: "This isn't a dance floor tonight, this is a bull ring. You came out with fantastic presence. I loved those spins. Not like most of the guys, who just have their hands and, 'Go on girl! Go on girl!' I loved it! Slinging her over your heard. I loved the twist turns. I'm telling you, up until now you've just been a pretender. You've become a contender tonight!"
Bruno Tonioli: "Bravo. Powerful, untamed. It was like a Paso Doble, but Quentin Tarantino. There's a splatter everywhere. But there is one thing that you have to sort out in the Paso Doble, the Spanish lines. Your hips have to be under."