Count New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez among those impressed with UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Edgar, who defeated B.J. Penn twice in the span of four months, provided a rousing pre-game speech prior to New York’s improbable come-from-behind victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets blew a 16-point second half lead and found themselves behind 27-23 with less than a minute left, needing a game-winning drive to stave off an embarrassing defeat.
Sanchez -- who threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns -- drove the Jets down the field and hit Santonio Holmes with a six-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds to go for the victory. He credited Edgar for some timely inspiration.
“The guy is barely taller than this podium, and this guy beat B.J. Penn in a UFC championship bout,” Sanchez said in a release. “Everybody counted him out. They wanted a rematch, and he went back and beat him even worse. Talk about a guy who is mentally tough and physically tough. He came in and spoke to the team [Saturday] night. It was a perfect time.”
Edgar on Saturday had relayed his story to the Jets and spoke of meeting instances of adversity with resolve. The 29-year-old New Jersey native pointed to his promotional debut against Tyson Griffin, who trapped him in a kneebar with a minute remaining in their UFC 67 encounter in February 2007. Edgar withstood the painful submission and earned a unanimous decision at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. He attributed much of his success in the cage to an unflappable belief in himself.
“He talked about never giving up, being counted out, playing until the end, fighting and believing in yourself and your team and the people around you,” Sanchez said. “Those were the only ones telling him he could win the fight [against Penn]. Everyone else was counting him out.”
The Jets -- tied with the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots for the best record in the NFL at 8-2 -- entered the game against Houston on the heels of back-to-back overtime wins on the road.
“I think there’s a lot of people who counted us out [on Sunday] and last week and the week before that,” Sanchez said. “We just look at each other look at the guys wearing the Jets decals, and we know we have a chance until the thing is over. It was perfect for [head coach] Rex [Ryan] to bring in a guy like that and give us a little extra inspiration, so it was great for Frankie to come in.”