With the new stadium, new players, new front office and new fans, the Pats are exultant. "For the first time I feel like I'm in the big leagues," says Jon Morris. "I never thought of myself in those terms until this year. We were the laughingstock of the league. Before, we'd get behind, then fold our tents and watch the clock run out. No more." To which Nance adds, "No one's messing with our heads now. We don't have to worry about all that picayune stuff that blows your mind. We can relax and do nothing but play football."
On the Pats, Plunkett is the big man, but he is still learning, and once in a while he will call a Stanford formation—such as "green right" instead of the Pats' "split right"—as Vataha breaks from the huddle while the rest of the team stares. Once Plunkett audibled a play that was impossible to run from the formation the team was in; it went for no gain. But Morris is serene. "Jim's not a rookie quarterback," he says. "He's a quarterback, our quarterback."