DENVER – Wes Welker has been here before.
In fact, Sunday's 26-16 win against the Patriots was the fourth AFC Championship Game of the wide receiver's 10-year career.
The difference this time, though, was that he was lining up across the Patriots instead of with them.
Given that experience, Head Coach John Fox approached Welker on Friday and asked him to address the team on Saturday.
"I spent all day Saturday just putting something together," Welker said. "Watch a little film and different things like that of how I think the game needed to be played. The guys just went out and executed – and that's what it comes down to."
He told the team to "enjoy the moment" and to not take the game for granted. He reassured his teammates that while New England was a great organization, it could be beaten.
"He basically told us that it's hard to get to this position," fellow wide receiver Eric Decker added. "And you've got to give it everything you've got because it's either win or go home. New England took it to us Week 12. To get another opportunity, to be at home – we had to sustain that momentum that we had.
"He told us to come out, play strong and stick together through the good and the bad. And I think that's what we did."
Demaryius Thomas said that he was "touched" by Welker's words and was so moved that he was ready to play at that very moment.
For the rookie running back Montee Ball, in his first AFC Championship Game, Welker's words held a lot of meaning especially since Welker played (and lost) in this very game just a year ago.
"It was a great, great, great message that he relayed to all of us," Ball said. "We kept it with us and went out there and played our hearts out."
That effort resulted in 400 passing yards and 107 rushing yards, which represents the second-most in a playoff game in Broncos history. That production led to a pair of touchdowns and four Matt Prater field goals, enough to eliminate the Patriots and advance.
Welker has also been to the Super Bowl before – twice – and that's exactly where the Broncos are headed now.
The message of making the most of opportunities likely remains the same for Welker. In both of his trips to the Super Bowl, the New York Giants turned his team away from winning it all.
"I even told (the team) this last week – I went to the Super Bowl in '07 and I thought I'd be back the next year, the next year after that and everything else. It's hard," Welker said.
"And you've got to seize the opportunity and take advantage of it."