As the Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) prepare for their biggest game of the season on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5), quarterback Alex Smith's message to the team is simple.
"I've been around long enough," Smith said on Wednesday. "Enjoy these situations and embrace them. This time of year, a December game [in Pittsburgh] with a little weather involved, embrace that situation. These opportunities don't come around very often.
"You've been working hard to put yourself in this position. You wanted the stages to be more meaningful and here we are. You still have life and you're still in it. The games just get bigger and bigger."
Coming off one of the best games of his Chiefs career last Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, which was another must-win game to keep the Chiefs' playoff hopes alive, Smith completed 18 of 30 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
The 297 yards passing is the second most of Smith's career in Kansas City, only trailing the playoff performance he had last year against the Indianapolis Colts (378).
But whether he throws for 297 yards or 130, Smith's only focus is to follow the game plan as laid out by the coaches throughout the week.
"I've played long enough that I just don't think like that," Smith said of whether he wants to be in an offense that throws it 55-plus times per game. "I want to win. The best part of this game is winning in whatever way and it changes every week. I think I enjoy that.
"Whatever the challenge is that week, the matchup scheme-wise, personnel-wise, that you're able to do that and find a way to win. It's not cookie-cutter. Every week changes, the challenge changes, the personnel matchups change. It's trying to find a way within those things to go out there and beat the opponent."
Smith said his barometer of success is simply being correct with the decisions he makes on the field.
"That's my role every week is to go out there and execute the offense, distribute the football and the goal is to go out there and be correct," Smith said. "Go out there and make the good decisions and throw out good footballs and when you need to take those shots, you take them and you hit them."
Earlier this week, Smith was named one of eight finalists for the NFL's inaugural Sportsmanship Award, which recognizes players who exemplify outstanding sportsmanship on the field.
"It's humbling, very humbling," Smith said of becoming a finalist. "Knowing the caliber of characters the NFL has around the league and certainly just to be nominated is very humbling."
View the top 20 photos of Alex Smith from the 2014 season
Smith continued about what he believes sportsmanship means out on the field.
"I think it's about the approach to the game," he said. "Sportsmanship is important to all of us, doing the little things the right way, how you're treating people, teammates and opponents."
For Smith, it was his father who taught him at an early age what sportsmanship was all about.
"I think it started with my dad," Smith explained. "As far as competing and team sports, things like that, you learn from doing, but certainly I think a lot of it started with him."
The winner will be announced on NBC during the at the fourth annual "NFL Honors" show on Saturday, January 31, the night before Super Bowl XLIX. The winner will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice and will be presented with a trophy.