Antonio Smith knows the burning desire to win a championship. After all, Smith played in the 2008 Super Bowl as an Arizona Cardinal, but came away empty-handed. On Monday in a players-only meeting, Smith was one of the players who addressed the team.
"I told them a part of my story in Arizona in that last year that we made the Super Bowl run," Smith said on his radio show on Tuesday. "We started off hot and fell on ourselves and ended like trash and then went into the playoffs. It humbled us when we headed into the playoffs. Everybody had to check their egos at the door. Everybody had to put the team first before yourselves."
After starting off 7-3, Arizona slipped into the playoffs with a 9-7 record and then methodically defeated the Falcons in an NFC wild card game and both Philadelphia and Carolina on the road. The Cardinals would eventually lose 27-23 to Pittsburgh in a closely-contested championship game. Smith drew from his experience on learning from losses and becoming something greater.
Smith gave his teammates a choice between being the "flashy team" that garners a lot of publicity but ends up losing early in the playoffs, or the team (and he emphasized this word) that ultimately wins the Super Bowl.
The lesson that Smith shared was simple: "You are not going to win the Super Bowl if you are not a team."
Houston is currently the only team in the NFL with a top-five offense and defense. Despite losing 23-20 in overtime at Reliant Stadium, Smith is encouraged by what he saw against Seattle and believes the Texans are just beginning to play up to their potential.
"We have not touched what we touched Sunday," Smith said. "That level of play, that level of excitement, the aggressiveness. You might have seen comebacks early in the season but we had never played at the level we played this past Sunday."