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'Dream come true' for New Orleans native Deion Jones in Superdome debut

NEW ORLEANS -- It was a surreal homecoming for Atlanta Falcons rookie linebacker Deion Jones.

The New Orleans native said his father, Cal, always told him to "shut I-10 down," meaning be relentless. Jones followed his father's advice by picking off a Drew Brees pass deflected by teammate Brian Poole and speeding down the highway 90 yards for a touchdown in the Falcons' 45-32 win over the New Orleans Saints.

Jones, a Saints fan as a kid who idolized running back Ricky Williams, always dreamed of playing in the Superdome. To have a touchdown in his first ever game inside his hometown stadium made it that much more memorable.

"While I was running, it seemed to be going in slow motion," Jones said. "When I got near the end zone, I said to myself, 'I've got to get across the line and get in.' It was just amazing to come back here and play in front of all my fellow New Orleanians as well as to play in front of my entire family. It was a blessing. It was like a dream come true."

Jones admitted he looked up at the video board on his way to the end zone.

"I was making sure no one was behind me, close enough to get the ball out or tackle me," Jones said.

Then after scoring, Jones glanced into the stands to make eye contact with his father, mother and little sister. He promised the moment would be an emotional one just for the simple fact of playing at home. The story was even more compelling considering Jones and his parents were forced to evacuate to Mississippi and Texas during Hurricane Katrina, and his late grandmother took shelter in the Superdome during the storm. Monday's game marked the 10-year anniversary of the Saints first game back in the stadium after Katrina -- a 23-3 Saints' win over the Falcons.

Jones put together his own tribute to Katrina victims, wearing a sketch on the inside of his cleats of the mark put on Katrina-impacted house. The mark indicated the numbers of dead bodies found, the type of hazards inside the home, the squad that searched the home, and the date when the home was searched. Jones also had the words NOLA scribbled on his shoe to recognize New Orleans, showing pride in his city.

"I think that everybody was just so excited for him," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Jones. "Tonight, he had a special message on his cleats that was very personal to him about growing up here and what happened for him 10 years ago."

The statement Jones made on and off the field was heard, loud and clear.