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NFL Divisional Playoff Recap: Horses, Sunsets and Super Supreme Nachos

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A couple touchdowns, a couple interceptions, 245 passing yards and a quarterback rating of 26.5.  Thos numbers, for those of you who don’t pay much attention to such things, could best be described as pedestrian or serviceable.  They’re not especially good or bad.  If they were breakfast food, they’d be Corn Flakes, Cream of Wheat, or perhaps a banana that’s sat around a day or two too long.  They’re definitely not Hall of Fame worthy; yet they belong to a guy who will be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame the second he becomes eligible.  That stat line belongs to Peyton Manning, and it’s an average of what he’s done in his last two playoff appearances, both losses.

We all want to go out in a blaze of glory, galloping off into the sunset on a celebrated Derby winner with a powerful name like Thunderbolt, King Midas or Viagra.  Sadly, as my wife reminds me almost every night, we don’t always get what we want.  For most of us, that final ride is a whole lot less inspiring.  We sneak out of town, clinging to the back of a half-blind plow horse named Scabs who bucks us off at the bus station on his way to the glue factory.

There’s something else my wife tells me all the time.  Life isn’t fair.  If you asked him right now, I think Peyton Manning would probably agree.  No, I’m not comparing him to an aging plow horse.  That would be Eli.  I am suggesting he may have already missed the opportunity for his glorious sunset ride.

If Manning isn’t the best quarterback of all time he’s certainly in the discussion.  He’s either at or near the top of the list when It comes to regular season passing yards, passing touchdowns, win percentage, quarterback rating and pretty much every other significant statistic.  However, the two words that really leap out there are regular season.  When it comes to the playoffs, he’s come up short a lot more often than not.  For his career, he actually has a losing record in the post season and was one and done NINE TIMES including this year.  He does have one Super Bowl ring (half as many as his baby brother)  but, fair or not, his legacy might be the number of times he failed to get the job done.

I can’t help drawing comparisons between Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.  Manning makes better commercials.  Otherwise, they might be the same guy.  Okay, Favre retired and un-retired about 37 times.  Manning hasn’t done that.  He’s a class act and, when that time comes, I expect he’ll call it quits and that will be the end of it.  However, speculation about his retirement goes all the way back to the 2011 season he missed due to a potentially career ending neck injury.  His career hasn’t ended.  He’s with a new team now and has two more post season failures under his belt.  Tell me that doesn’t sound like Favre.

But to me, the real comparison has to do with how Manning and Favre became, in a sense, untouchable.  Like Manning, Favre has one ring.  He put up huge numbers but also threw more interceptions than anyone else in the history of the NFL.  How many games did the Packers or Jets or Vikings lose because Favre made a huge mistake at a crucial time?  Jay Culter throws into triple coverage and he’s an idiot.  Brett Favre does it and he’s a “gun slinger” or a “gamer.”  No one ever had a bad word to say about him until he started burning his own bridges with the Packers, and then the Jets, and then the Vikings.

Go back and look at Manning’s career stats.  He struggles in the month of December.  He struggles once the temperature starts to drop.  He obviously struggles in the playoffs.  He claims there’s nothing to any of that but, at this point, it’s hard to overlook.  Still, he always gets a pass.  Already, people are making excuses for his latest playoff loss to a Colts team that decided prior to 2012 that they’d be better off without him.  His receivers did drop a couple balls.  And, maybe Peyton was sick, or hurt, or tired.  Fine.  Did you see what Aaron Rodgers did over the weekend?  He’s a couple weeks removed from a calf injury that normally takes a couple months to heal.  He could barely walk yet still did enough to beat a Cowboys team that hadn’t lost on the road all season.  Peyton’s getting older and has clearly lost some zip on his fastball.  The Broncos may have a new coach next season and, with major salary cap issues ahead, the team could look significantly different in 2015.  I don’t know if it’s time for Manning to retire.  I just think it’s a little late if he was hoping to go out on top.

 

The NFL takes licensing and trademarks pretty seriously.  As a result, I’m really not supposed to use the word Super immediately followed by the word Bowl.  My nachos are super and often served in a bowl but, to avoid any legal issues, I’ll simply call this game day recipe Super Supreme Nachos.  They taste best if you eat them while watching some super big bowl game.  Nothing immediately comes to mind but I’m sure you can think of something.

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

1 can dark kidney beans, drained & rinsed

1 can spicy refried beans

½ cup water

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 bag thick corn tortilla chips

¾ cup chopped green onions

1 cup chopped plum tomatoes.

½ cup pickled jalapenos, chopped (more if you’d like)

½ cup sliced black olives

4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

4 oz. Mexican cheese, shredded

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.  Begin browning ground beef in a large skillet.  Add onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.  Once beef is cooked through, remove from heat and drain the grease.  Return beef to skillet and, over medium heat,  add kidney beans and refried beans.  Stir in water, brown sugar, and more chili powder and cumin (roughly the same amounts as before).  Spread tortilla chips on a pizza pan or baking sheet, preferably one with sides.  Spoon  bean mixture onto your chips, making sure no chips are left naked.  Top with green onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and olives.  Sprinkle cheese(s) over the whole mess.  I say sprinkle but this is no time to be shy.  Take a moment to admire your work, then slide the whole mess into the oven.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is melted.  As a final touch, top with additional chopped green onions and/or cilantro.  Serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or nothing at all because they’re perfect already.

 

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