"I don't get real nervous," said Bellino. calm behind the wheel. "I mean sick to my stomach or anything. I'm anxious though. I want to play."
In the stadium parking lot people who recognized Bellino yelled to him, and one man stopped him to say they had met when Joe was on his honeymoon. Joe nodded. At the players' entrance, however, the gatekeeper was incredulous when approached by these two little men.
"I'm Joe Namath," said Bellino.
"Oh," said the man, and opened up.
True to his plan, Holovak used Bellino sparingly. By count, he participated in 10 plays. On the first Boston running play of the game, Bellino cut back off right tackle, head up, those great legs making the quick, darting moves vital in close company. He gained five yards. On the next series he gained two more when there was no hole. Then he caught a swing pass to the left, behind the linebacker and in front of the halfback, slipping deftly between them, and ran for 13 yards. In the second half he caught another pass for 15 yards, followed good blocking around right end on a 13-yard run and ran for three at right tackle. Twice he was overthrown on pass plays.
Bellino looked particularly good on two plays that did not produce anything. On a long pass in the second quarter he had a step lead, but the pass was short and hit the defensive back on the shoulder pads. As the two men and the ball came down, Bellino alertly stretched out for it and for a second held on. It would have been a sensational catch, but when he hit the ground the ball bounced free. Later, on a sweep, he ran right past the Jets' left end, sucked the defensive halfback into overcommitting and cut inside, running perilously close to the sideline (and all those people). Three times he was hit solidly before he went down 16 yards upfield. This play was called back, because a Boston guard had jumped off side.
Early in the second half, when it was apparent to him—and to the crowd that kept yelling his name—that he felt ready to play more than Holovak was willing to permit, he volunteered.
"Let's not rush it, Joe," said Holovak. "There's plenty of time. You're doing fine, just fine."
Afterward, driving back to Andover with a friend, Holovak smiled and said just fine wasn't the half of it. "We've got something here," he said. "We've really got something."