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Ex-Jets Ellis, Ihedigbo have landed on their feet

Shaun Ellis of the New England Patriots celebrates

Shaun Ellis of the New England Patriots celebrates after a sack against the Denver Broncos. (Jan. 14, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Shaun Ellis has seen the screaming headlines about the turmoil in the Jets' locker room and listened to the chatter about his former team.

But Ellis essentially shrugged at the Jets' plight, preferring to bathe in the glow of the Patriots' 45-10 victory over Denver in their AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.

"I heard about it," the 12-year veteran defensive end said. "But this is my team. I'm not on that team. That stuff happens sometimes. You've just got to grow up, be a man about it, accept it, stand up and move on."

Ellis and fellow former Jet James Ihedigbo are moving on to the AFC Championship Game for the third straight year -- the first with the Patriots after two with the Jets. The top-seeded Pats will host the No. 2 Ravens on Sunday.

In Saturday's win, Ellis and Ihedigbo watched from the sideline as teammate Tom Brady tied an NFL postseason record with six touchdown passes -- five in the first half -- and established a club playoff passing mark with 363 yards.

Ellis had one of New England's five sacks of Tim Tebow, taking him down for a 5-yard loss in the third quarter. Tebow completed 9 of 26 attempts for 136 yards and was 3-for-10 in the first half. New England held Denver to 252 total yards and 15 first downs.

Ellis, 34, inked a one-year deal worth between $4 million and $5 million with the Patriots after he felt the Jets spurned him, offering only the veteran's minimum of $910,000 for one season. He had only 14 tackles and one sack in limited playing time in 14 regular-season games but couldn't be more thrilled to be in his current situation and environment.

"I came in, great teammates, they accepted me,'' Ellis said. "It was like, 'Man, just keep your head up, your time will come.' They do things a little different around here, so I just stayed a pro and just waited on my opportunities, and just have been able to take advantage of them.

"I wanted to get back here," Ellis added, referring to the AFC Championship Game, "and that's why I came here."

Ihedigbo, who played mostly on special teams in his time with the Jets, has served a key role in helping a Patriots secondary that's had its share of changes this season.

"It's just a blessing," he said. "Guys go through their whole careers and don't get to play in one, and I'm looking at my third opportunity to get to the big show. So it's all about fine-tuning details and execution and continuing to play as we did as a team [Saturday].

"It's awesome. I'm glad that I'm here, I'm glad for the opportunity that I've been blessed with. They wanted me and brought me here for games like this, to play in an AFC Championship Game, and that's what I'm going to do."

Meanwhile, their former teammates lament a lost season that ended with a lot of sniping and finger-pointing. "I don't even pay attention to that," Ihedigbo said. "We're focusing on winning the AFC championship, and whatever is going on, they can deal with."

New York Sports