Q: Is there any benefit to having playoff experience at times like this?
SMITH: “Yeah, I mean, you’d like to think so. I think just having played in big games, no question, as a quarterback having been in this atmosphere before, I think that all helps.”
Q: How do you share that with some of the guys that haven’t been in playoff games before?
SMITH: “Obviously, the stage is bigger; that’s what you want. This is what you’ve worked for, what we’ve worked for. You want to get to the bigger stage. You want to get to this. I think other than that, part of it is eliminating some of the distractions, eliminating some of the hype. It’s still going to come down to blocking and tackling and throwing and catching. It’s still going to come down to the little things, the details, the fundamentals; I think when you get to this level of football, especially late in the season, those are things that tend to show and can win or lose you a game.”
Q: Did it benefit you having Sunday off?
SMITH: “Yeah, I mean, I definitely feel better today. I think that’s the big thing, especially with the short week; some of the guys don’t have all those lumps that they normally have, a couple of days after the game. Hopefully that helps us have a better day of preparation today.”
Q: You had said before the trade you had your eye on coming to the Chiefs. This is why, right?
SMITH: “Yep, absolutely. No question. You don’t know, you kind of hope. It takes a lot to get the chemistry right and you see potential. I think it’s a credit not only to the coaches, the new coaches and staff that came in, but to the core group of guys that were here making this change.”
Q: What was it that convinced you this was the right place? The personnel?
SMITH: “There are a lot of things that go into it. I think you take something from everything. You’re looking at the whole picture, not one thing, just kind of everything, I guess.”
Q: Was the Indianapolis game just one of those days or was it the matchups?
SMITH: “I think they definitely beat us, no question. They out-executed us. They won the turnover battle and won it by a lot and anytime that happens in a football game it’s tough to overcome. I don’t know if there’s any one thing; I think they just flat outplayed us. So for us, a chance to go to their place and a brand new ball game, so we’ll see.”
Q: This will be the first game in a dome, which makes the noise very loud. How will you handle that?
SMITH: “It’s a playoff game, so it will be even louder. We’ll be inside, so, no question that will be a challenge for us on the offensive side of the ball to be able to handle the crowd noise. Anytime you have to communicate, sometimes, it’s going to have to be nonverbal and guys are just going to have to see things and hit things on the run and we have to be on top of it.”
Q: How do you explain the gravity of a playoff game to those who haven’t been there before?
SMITH: “Like I said, you don’t try to read too much into the hype. If anything, you just try to turn it up a little bit. You try to increase that focus. You try to eliminate some distractions. But in the end, I think we’ve had a good routine. I think week in and week out, guys have prepared hard. I think to a certain extent, you keep that. If anything, you just try to clean things up here or there. Like I said, it’s still going to come down to playing football and executing, blocking, tackling, pitch and catch. Those are the things that still need to be focused on. I don’t think (you) read into it too much. It’s still football.”
Q: Is the approach you take that you have to ramp up focus, but it’s still just football?
SMITH: “Yeah, for sure. I think if anything, just all week, when I talk about that focus, that’s preparation as well. All week, the mental preparation, all the details that go into this, you just clean all of those things up. You make sure you’re on top of them. There really is no tomorrow. That’s what the mindset is. I think that starts in preparation. This late in the season, physically, you’re trying to stay healthy and get ready. I think the focus throughout the week is mental.”
Q: Robert Mathis got to you once and hit you once. How do you keep away from him?
SMITH: “He’s a good player. Not many people have found a way to stop him, 19.5 sacks is a lot and certainly a lot of them have come at home. It’ll be on all of us, certainly me included. Movement within the pocket, being sound with the ball in the pocket, making good decisions, all of those things play into that. He’s a good player.”
Q: Is there confidence in the fact that you were minus four in turnovers, but still in the game against Indianapolis?
SMITH: “Yeah, I think at times there late (in the game, we) moved the ball well and we couldn’t finish on any of those drives. We had a chance to make it a close game. I think certainly, when you turn on the film and you see the mistakes that we made, you see the things that they did well and maybe how to counteract it. So yeah, I think there certainly are encouraging things you can see from the film. Little things that aren’t big changes, but if we do right, change that ball game.”
Q: You played a few years before you were a starter and then you went out and played in a playoff game that had to be one of the highlights of your career.
SMITH: “Yeah, certainly something memorable. I think all of these games—I mean it’s a playoff game; these are the games everybody remembers. The stage is bigger. There are only a certain amount of teams left. Most teams are home right now and packed up their bags. Everybody is watching.”
Q: It’s almost as if that game was scripted.
SMITH: “Yeah, I would have liked to have said that I knew that was going to happen, but I had no idea. You just go out and play. You have no idea what’s going to happen, just like every other week. You try to prepare yourself as best you can and go out there. When you go out there, you have to play football. You cut it loose and play. You don’t know what type of situation you’re going to be in.”
Q: Does every postseason game have the same feeling, going into it or is this different here?
SMITH: “They’re all individually different; none of them are the same. No one game—each week, the matchup is different. I mean, these are all of the best of the best teams. There are not many weak areas on these teams. They all really play good football and there’s a reason they made the playoffs. All of these games are very different. No question though, absolutely, all of the stakes get raised. There is no tomorrow, so, certainly it’s normal to get pretty jacked up for these games. You should be.”
Q: Is there a special pride going into the playoffs, with the turnaround you’ve been able to have?
SMITH: “Absolutely. I think all of us remember very well, I mean certainly the guys who were here last year remember last year. But, all of us remember being here in April, in May and talking about this and then you head into camp and you’re talking about it. It has been a journey and here it is. The season is done. You wipe that all clean and now it is a fresh start; there are 12 teams (in the) playoffs. We have our opportunity and certainly I think all of us, when you go through something like that together, all of that work, yeah, you share a bond, no question. You’re playing for each other.”
Q: What about
SMITH: “Tough to describe quickly as he's obviously a tremendous player. I’ve said this before; the guy just doesn’t come off the field. He’s always out there doing something to help us. That’s pretty rare in the NFL. Tough, tough guy. He prepares himself for all of those different situations and then when he gets out there, he’s a big-time playmaker.”
Q: Do you think about the legacy you’re leaving, going into this game?
SMITH: “For me, I’m not thinking about legacy or anything like that. I still think this comes back to doing anything you can to try and find a way to win the game. I think we all realize that the stakes are higher and everyone does remember these games and how much they mean. As a football player, you’re trying to eliminate all of that. Really, the focus needs to remain on football and getting ready to try and find a way to win a football game. I think you’re trying to eliminate all of that stuff as a team.”