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Dennis Byrd will be in the house Sunday

7) MARK SANCHEZ IS CONFIDENT AFTER BEATING THE

7) MARK SANCHEZ IS CONFIDENT AFTER BEATING THE PATS

In the Wild Card game, Mark Sanchez did just enough to hang with Peyton Manning. Against the Patriots, Sanchez outperformed Tom Brady, going 16-for-25 with 194 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He made smart decisions in the against Bill Belichick’s young, tough defense and rebounded from an awful performance in New England last month.

With confidence on his side, Sanchez now heads to his second straight AFC Championship game -- so he's got experience on his side, too. Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Jets called on Dennis Byrd to provide them with a little inspiration Saturday night, asking him to deliver a motivational message to help fire the troops up before they took on the Patriots.

Now, they're bringing him to Pittsburgh for Sunday's AFC Championship tilt with the Steelers -- as an honorary captain.

Byrd, a former defensive lineman with the Jets, suffered a broken neck against the Chiefs in 1992 after colliding with teammate Scott Mersereau, leaving him temporarily paralyzed. Byrd ended up walking again, though he was never able to play once more, and has mostly shunned the spotlight.

But he was around the team over the weekend, and the players, many of whom spoke glowingly of Byrd after their 28-21 win in New England, are glad he'll be around once more.   

"It's just fitting for him to be our captain," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "I'm proud that he is. I wouldn't want it any other way. hearing about his story for the first time really makes you understand how fortunate we are and how fragile your career is.

"These moments you have on the plane, hanging around in the locker room, having fun with guys, going to eat, playing on the field, it's pretty special. it can end at any moment. That was just a good reminder for us of how fortunate we are. His story definitely gave us inspiration last week and it's just fitting that he's going to lead us out before the game."

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