ATLANTA — The landing, Deion Jones admitted afterwards, hurt.
But the results of the play hurt Jones' hometown even more.
Jones, who starred at Jesuit High School before moving on to LSU, leaped high in the air in the end zone to snag a Drew Brees pass with 1:25 left to hand the Saints a 20-17 loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"When the tight end looked back, it made me look back, and the ball was right there," Jones said. "I just wanted to make a play on the ball for my brothers, even if it was just batting it out of his hands. It just ended up being right in my hands."
Jones, or "Debo" as everyone back home as well as everybody in the Falcons' locker room calls him, put his signature all over this win.
He finished with a game-high 13 tackles, including three tackles for loss. He also had two pass deflections. But his biggest play came on the Saints' final drive.
"I just opened up my eyes, and all of my brothers were standing right there," Jones said. "Once I realize I had it, I knew it was a long way down (to the ground) because I felt my feet in the air. I just wanted to hold on to the ball. I'm glad I was able to do that for my brothers."
Jones, who appeared on the cover of the game day program, also had a game-changing play on the Saints' first drive.
His tackle on Saints running back Alvin Kamara with 10:37 left in the opening quarter ended Kamara's night. Kamara was evaluated for a concussion and didn't return.
"I just remember reading the screen and trying to make a play," Jones said.
Jones, in his second season in the NFL, downplayed the significance of playing well against his hometown team.
"I guess (it's special)," he said. "But really, it's just me playing hard for my boys. We just want to make the most of every game and every opportunity."
It's been a special year for Jones. He played in his first Super Bowl in February. He also now has a 6-month old daughter. Now he can add the game-winning interception against Brees.
Would he have ever imagined that in his playing days at Jesuit?
"No, I wouldn't have ever put that together," he said.
Jones admits he didn't grow up a Saints fan.
"I was a Saints supporter, but I was a Ravens fan because of Ray Lewis," Jones said.
On Thursday, he had a Ray Lewis-like night and kept the Falcons in the thick of the NFC race. He'll return to his hometown on Christmas Eve when the Falcons play the Saints in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"We always talk about being closers and being the baddest on the field, and that's a product of how hard we work," Jones said.