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NFL success seems to follow Amherst native James Ihedigbo

  • Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo shoots a video as safety Bernard Pollard, right, looks over his shoulder during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo shoots a video as safety Bernard Pollard, right, looks over his shoulder during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo shoots a video as safety Bernard Pollard, right, looks over his shoulder during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo shoots a video as safety Bernard Pollard, right, looks over his shoulder during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo shoots a video as safety Bernard Pollard, right, looks over his shoulder during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
  • Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo shoots a video as safety Bernard Pollard, right, looks over his shoulder during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

It’s possible, maybe even likely, that it’s all a coincidence. After all, James Ihedigbo is a part-time player, appearing mostly on special teams.

But there’s no denying that success, especially in the playoffs, follows the University of Massachusetts graduate and Amherst native.

Ihedigbo became a regular with the New York Jets in the 2009 season, appearing in 15 games. Before that season, the Jets had been to the AFC championship game just three times — 1998, 1982 and 1968.

But he was part of the Jets’ back-to-back trips to the conference title game in 2009 and 2010. The road to that 2010 game included an upset of the New England Patriots.

Following the NFL lockout the Jets chose not to re-sign Ihedigbo, who signed with New England. The Jets haven’t been to the playoff in the two seasons since parting ways with the undrafted free agent.

The Patriots had playoff success before Ihedigbo’s arrival, but they’d been bounced in their first playoff game in 2009 and 2010.

With Ihedigbo starting at safety, the Patriots advanced to their first Super Bowl since 2007, beating the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship.

The Patriots though selected three defensive backs in the 2012 draft, making Ihedigbo seemingly expendable once again. This time he signed with Baltimore, which one year later beat the Patriots in an AFC title game rematch. Ihedigbo is now back in the Super Bowl.

UMASS JINX — The Patriots might want to avoid playing teams with ex-Minutemen on their postseason roster. Each of their last four playoff exits have come against a team with a former UMass player on the roster:

In 2009, New England lost to the Ravens and Matt Lawrence.

In 2010, the Patriots lost to Ihedigbo, Vlad Ducasse and the Jets.

In 2011, the Victor Cruz-led New York Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

In 2012, Ihedigbo got New England again with the Ravens.

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