When cornerback Jimmy Smith flipped on the television Sunday morning, all he saw were pundits predicting a Ravens loss.
Sunday's game was predicted to not be just any loss, but another blowout loss. NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin apparently said Baltimore wasn't going to come within 15 points of Pittsburgh.
The Steelers were averaging 35 points per game over their last six contests. They were playing with a chance to clinch a playoff berth. The Ravens were 4-10 and playing with their fourth starting quarterback this season, not to mention the patchwork offense around him.
None of that mattered to Smith or the Ravens.
"This is not even to sound brash, but we believed the whole time that we were going to beat them," Smith said. "It's Pittsburgh. So the records, scoring, doesn't matter how good they were playing coming in. Nothing matters when you play Pittsburgh.
"There you go, Michael Irvin."
The Ravens had nothing to play for except the pride of sweeping their AFC North rivals and hurting their playoff chances – and they reveled in it afterwards.
"It's the Steelers. We just wanted to beat them," defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. "It's even sweeter that we may have ruined their playoff chances. That's the biggest icing on the cake, and we also just happened to sweep them."
It's only the third time in the Ravens' 20-year existence that they've swept the Steelers. The other times were in 2006 and 2011.
"It's a great win, it really is," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It's Pittsburgh. It's not to be diminished. I think that shows respect to them to say that. To sweep Pittsburgh is a very valuable thing. It's a very meaningful thing."
Over the past eight years under* *Harbaugh, the race for the AFC North crown has been a three-way battle between the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals. This year, it turned into a two-team contest as the Ravens fell well behind.
Sunday's game was a chance to send a message that this tough season is but a one-year blip and that the Ravens will be back in contention next season.
Cornerback Lardarius Webb said this was one of his most satisfying wins.
"It just makes you feel a little bit better," he said. "We've still got big goals for this organization, and for right now, for this moment, it feels awesome to sweep the Steelers."
Despite the Ravens' record, the game being flexed out of primetime television, and there being so many new faces on Baltimore's side, it still had the same physical feel of any other Ravens-Steelers clash.
In his fifth season, quarterback Ryan Mallett played his first career game against the Steelers – in his first career game with the Ravens.
"I know what [the rivalry is] about now," Mallett said. "I like it. What Steve Smith [Sr.] said, 'big boy football,' right? Alright."
Cornerback Shareece Wright said Jimmy Smith told him all week about what he should expect.
"'That Steelers game is going to be where it's at,'" Jimmy Smith told Wright. "I got a taste of it. It's exactly what I thought it was going to be."
After Sunday's loss, Pittsburgh (9-6) no longer controls its destiny with the Jets (10-5) one game ahead and in position for the final wild-card spot. The Jets get in if they beat the Bills next Sunday.
Asked about possibly knocking the Steelers out of the playoffs, guard Marshal Yanda, who is no stranger to the rivalry, said, "Obviously, that's pretty awesome."
"If we can't get in there, then you can't get in either," Webb added.