- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 24, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Meadowlands Mark has even Broadway Joe on his feet cheering these days.

Joe Namath stood anxiously in front of his TV _ there was no way he could sit through this _ at his home in Florida on Sunday during the Jets’ latest tension-filled game. As he watched Mark Sanchez coolly lead New York to yet another stunning victory, the Hall of Fame quarterback saw shades of himself.

“I don’t think anyone would hesitate to say, yeah, this kid, he can be one of the best,” Namath said. “No doubt about it.”

From a guy who made perhaps the most famous guarantee in sports history, that’s quite an endorsement.

But that’s the kind of reputation Sanchez is earning with late-game comebacks, overtime victories, clutch performances and levelheaded leadership for a team tied for the best record in the league. It’s an exciting combination the Jets haven’t seen from a young quarterback since Namath delivered the franchise its only title more than 40 years ago.

“Every week, Mark has that confidence,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said, “that he can do it week after week if we need him to.”

They certainly have the last few games, and he’s delivered in a big way.

“He’s a force to be reckoned with,” center Nick Mangold said.

There were the two winning drives in overtime on the road at Detroit and Cleveland, when Sanchez went into the huddle each time and commanded the confidence of his teammates.

“You can see the fire in his eyes,” fullback Tony Richardson said.

Then there was Sunday’s improbable victory over Houston when he marched New York down the field with less than a minute left.

“My daughter, she looked at me after Houston scored and I said, ‘Hey, we’ve got enough time here. This is terrific,’” said Namath, who still connects with fans on his site, BroadwayJoe.tv, as well as Facebook and Twitter. “Sanchez and those guys have already shown me that they can win in the end and play the full 60 minutes _ and then some.”

Comeback ability was a knock on Sanchez coming out of the draft, only because no one saw it. He benefited from playing at Southern California, which rarely trailed opponents.

“It’s always been something that I’ve kind of wanted,” Sanchez said. “To me, that was, ‘All right, give me a chance to come back. I’m going to win it, not making a miraculous play, but just making the plays we know how to make.’”

Sanchez watched a television special with some teammates last week on some of the NFL’s top 10 comeback wins. That was something he thought about before taking the field for his own shot against the Texans.

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