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Jets receiving tandem: once unwanted, now unstoppable

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Jets WR Anderson may be cooled down against the Broncos (0:48)

Matthew Berry and Mike Clay think Robby Anderson could get shut down against Aqib Talib on Sunday. (0:48)

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse began their NFL careers in the same place -- at the bottom. And they like to remind each of that before games.

"Thirty-two teams didn't want you," Kearse will tell Anderson, who can use the same motivational line on his partner.

No other starting receiving duo can employ that rallying cry.

The New York Jets have a unique starting tandem, as both players entered the league as UDFAs -- undrafted free agents. Anderson and Kearse not only share that bond, but they're always trying to strengthen it. It hurt like hell at the time -- it's the ultimate form of rejection -- but now they wear it like a badge of honor.

"We talk about it all the time," Anderson said. "He always tells me, 'Bro, the cream will rise to the top.' It motivates me to see how far he's gone with his career, being so successful even though he wasn't drafted. He keeps that chip on his shoulder like I do. He keeps reminding me of the fact that they slept on me, so wake 'em up."

No one is sleeping on them anymore. You can call them the hottest receiving tandem in the league, and that wouldn't be a stretch. Anderson and Kearse are just the sixth duo to both record 100 receiving yards in a game and they're the only pair to do it twice -- the last two games, as a matter of fact.

The back-to-back doesn't happen that often -- only six previous times since 2000. That select group includes only one UDFA, former Denver Broncos standout Rod Smith, who teamed with Ed McCaffrey in 2000.

Anderson and Kearse are a rare tandem, all right. It makes you wonder how they didn't get drafted.

Kearse was a productive starter for the University of Washington, but he damaged his draft stock with a slow 40 time at the scouting combine -- 4.58. After getting rejected in the draft -- 33 receivers were picked in 2012 -- he signed with the Seattle Seahawks and worked his way into a prominent role.

"It stays with me," Kearse said of the draft snub. "Each game, I remind myself that 32 teams passed on me on draft day, and I carry that chip on my shoulder. It keeps my competitiveness sharp."

Anderson played only two seasons at Temple and had some off-the-field issues, prompting teams to shy away. He signed with the Jets last year and quickly soared up the depth chart. Now he's having a breakout year, leading the team with 871 yards and seven touchdowns. His newfound success, he said, is sweeter because of his long journey.

"It sheds a lot of inspiration," Anderson said. "In order to attain the success you want, you can go against the odds and become what you want. I'm always going to remember [the snub]. It's like they didn't want me to get my foot in the door. I had to push my way through."

No other team has former UDFAs as its top two receivers, based on updated depth charts at Ourlads.com. The New York Giants have two among their top three receivers -- Roger Lewis and Tavarres King -- but their No. 1 receiver, Sterling Shepard, was a second-round pick. Let's not forget this important fact: Their production doesn't come close to that of Anderson and Kearse.

When Kearse arrived in early September, as part of the Sheldon Richardson trade, he immediately sought out Anderson, knowing their common background. Kearse, veteran leader, started pushing buttons.

"I told him, 'Don't forget, 32 teams passed on you,'" said Kearse, who already has set a career high with 51 catches. "That's just to remind ourselves that you work hard to get where you're at, but you never forget where you came from."

Kearse was asked about his draft-day experience, and how so many teams could've been so wrong. He smiled.

"It's OK," he said. "I remind them every week."