If there’s one thing I know about football, it’s that you’ll be hard pressed to win a game when your quarterback rating is lower than your opponent’s score. Brian Hoyer was the Browns quarterback through the first 14 weeks of the season. He didn’t play great, but also didn’t have a hell of a lot to work with. The Browns suffered key injuries on the offensive line, seemed to have a different starting running back every week, and their best receiver was suspended for the first ten games. Hoyer still won more than he lost, and kept Cleveland in the hunt in the hotly contested AFC North. Over the past decade and a half, he’s the only Browns quarterback with a winning record, and the loyal fans couldn’t wait to replace him with a kid who, thus far, has proved nothing more than a lack of maturity.
Johnny Manziel made his long awaited NFL debut on Sunday. To say he struggled would be like saying Cookie Monster has a bit of a sweet tooth. Johnny Football is energetic, dynamic, mobile, and was supposed to bring a new dimension to the Browns’ stagnant offense. What he brought instead looked a whole lot more like ineptitude. He claims it was the worst game of his career and the stat sheet backs that up. Manziel actually accounted for about 80% of the team’s total yards, which sounds pretty good if you can overlook the fact that they only had 107 of them. He passed for 88 yards and rushed for another 13. He threw two picks, and had a third negated by a penalty. He was also sacked three times for a net loss of 26 yards or just shy of 25% of their offensive total. Manziel finished the game with a quarterback rating of 1.0 and the Browns, who now look like a serious long shot to make the playoffs, lost 30 to 0. If Johnny Manziel is the quarterback of the future, Cleveland could be in real trouble… not that that’s anything new.
I’ll tell you what else isn’t new. The Raiders stink. For a while on Sunday, it looked like they might actually knock off the division rival Chiefs, as they already did once this season. They trailed by just 7 at halftime, then allowed 21 3rd quarter points and lost 31 to 13. That snaps the Raiders’ big win streak which they’d extended all the way out to one game. Oakland hasn’t managed back to back wins since Weeks 7 & 8 of 2012. They also haven’t had a winning season in over a decade.
What more can be said about the NFC South? New Orleans was in third place prior to the Monday night game, but benefited from an opponent rivaling the Jets and Redskins in the dysfunctionality department. I am of course referring to the Bears. They turned the ball over almost as soon as they got it and things pretty much went downhill from there. Jay Cutler fumbled once and threw three interceptions. He now leads the league in both categories. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before. I’m glad Chicago is getting the most out of their $100 million investment.
But getting back to the Saints, they didn’t play well either and still won by nearly 20 points. At 6 – 8, they now have a commanding half game lead in the division. Incidentally, they’d be in last place in either the AFC North of the NFC West. They’re in the South instead and control their own pathetic destiny. They’ll close the season against division rivals Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, someone will have to win those games, win the division, and earn the right to be the first team ousted from the playoffs. Nauseating. .
What’s not nauseating is this week’s game day recipe. Warm up that crock pot for Lexington Style Pulled Pork Sandwiches. It’s so ridiculously easy I’m almost embarrassed to post it. For the pork itself, the only two ingredients are a pork butt and a jar of pepperoncini peppers. Dump the entire contents of the jar into a food processor and mush it all up. Place your butt in a slow cooker, pour the pepper slop over the top and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Shred the meat with two large forks. At this point, you got a couple choices. You can stir in a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce and be done with it. You’ll end up with a damn good sandwich. Or, for true Lexington Style pulled pork, what some would call Carolina Barbecue, you need a very different type of sauce. It’s more vinegar based and has a distinct and I think a fantastic flavor. Give it a try and see what you think. Here’s the sauce recipe. You’ll want to make it ahead of time so it has time to cool.
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
½ cup ketchup
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp celery salt
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp brown sugar (more if desired)
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes. You want all those salts and sugars fully dissolved and well blended. Add a small amount of sauce to your pulled pork–just enough to add some moisture and introduce some of those flavors. Set the rest of the sauce aside. Spoon pork onto rolls, adds as much additional sauce as you’d like and top with a dollop of coleslaw. That’s good eats!
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