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Jets refuse to tap-out vs. Texans

Before their game with the Texans, the Jets got “ready to rumble” with a little help from a UFC fighter.<br />

Standing at the podium yesterday afternoon at the team’s training facility, Jets coach Rex Ryan lamented how his team failed to put away the Texans on Sunday, even while holding what should have been a commanding 23-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Ryan spoke about the need to put the game away, saying that his Jets “never had to let it be that close, obviously.”

But, Ryan points to the game and the Jets' fourth-quarter heroics as something to build on as the team eyes just its second ever trip to the Super Bowl in franchise history.

“The fact we came back might be better for our team in the long run,” Ryan said. “The way we came back and battled, the mental toughness it took, the resolve that it took and the fact our young quarterback led our team down the field when it looked like it was stacked against us, I think is actually better for our team.”

The Jets had the heart of a fighter late in the fourth quarter, and perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise. Before their game with the Texans, the Jets got “ready to rumble” with a little help from a UFC champion.

Frankie Edgar addressed the Jets at their team hotel Saturday evening. The diminutive Edgar, a UFC lightweight champion, is listed as a generous 5-foot-6 and 155 pounds, or as Mark Sanchez aptly said in his postgame press conference, “The guy’s barely taller than this podium.” A guest of Ryan, Edgar spoke with the team about resiliency and character.

Something obviously sunk in for the Jets, who, for a third straight Sunday afternoon, used late-game heroics in a thrilling fourth quarter comeback to beat the Texans 30-27.


Edgar talked to the Jets about his own personal motivation and
overcoming odds. A wrestler in high school at Toms River High School
East and then in college at Clarion University in Pennsylvania, Edgar
never won a state or national championship. It wasn’t until he began UFC
fighting that he enjoyed broad success, but always, he recalled to the
Jets, that he never gave up.


“He was someone who would work hard and always outwork everyone during
the offseason; he’d always come back stronger than the year before. He’d
fall short of his ultimate goal every year,” safety Jim Leonhard said.
“He never won the big one at any level. But that didn’t stop him – he
always displayed amazing character and attitude and always continued to
work hard towards his goal, even after he didn’t get it.”


After a successful college career, Edgar transitioned to mixed martial
arts where he almost instantly impressed in UFC in a career where he has
a lifetime professional record of 13-1. At UFC 112, he beat then
lightweight champion B.J. Penn by unanimous decision, the first title of
his career. For Edgar, it was justification for the years of work and
effort he put into his fighting career.


“Everybody counted him out,” Sanchez said, recalling the story. “I think a lot of people counted us out today.”


The Jets nearly were down out and out by a technical decision on Sunday
from self-inflicted wounds. Holding a 23-7 as the fourth quarter
unfolded, the Jets should have run out the clock and managed the game. Instead, a turnover and
sloppy play coupled with a lackadaisical defense let the Texans not only
back into the game, but gave the visitors a 27-23 lead with 55 seconds
left.


Then, like Frankie Edgar, the Jets refused to tap-out and pulled off the improbable win.


Instead of hanging their heads, the Jets marched down the field without
any timeouts as Sanchez orchestrated a five-play, 72 yard drive. A
42-yard Braylon Edwards pass along the sideline set-up a 6-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone on the
very next play. After consecutive overtime road wins, the Jets finally
won one in regulation, but it once again took their final offensive play
to do so.


The “cardiac kids” may sputter from time to time, but they always seem to have an answer when it matters most.


“We know that when somebody calls, we can go out there and answer,” said left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.


Sanchez said that with Cincinnati in town on
Thursday for a Thanksgiving game, he hopes, “We don’t need the
defibrillator four weeks in a row,” but regardless of the sloppy play
and the self-inflicted wounds, the Jets once again showed character and
perseverance. Even as the New Meadowlands Stadium emptied out late in
the fourth quarter with despondent fans resigned to a loss, the Jets
didn’t let the apparent sleeper hold that the Texans put on them keep
them down.


“This team is special, it has that character we heard about last night
from Frankie,” said Leonhard, who counts the Jets as his third team
since entering the league in 2005. “We feel like we have the talent and
that makeup that we can stick it out, no matter what the score is – we
feel like we’re always in it no matter what. I’ve never been on a team
like that before.”

 
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