Roquan Smith made waves this week in Cleveland with his words. Then he left bruises with his pads.
Asked this week about the mentality he takes into road games, Smith said, "we're going over there to beat their tails in front of their wife and kids."
It wasn't a direct shot at the Browns, but that didn't stop them from using it as bulletin-board material this week, adding more muscle to a black-and-blue AFC North rivalry.
Smith and the Ravens defense followed through, surrendering just three points and 166 yards to Cleveland's offense.
Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson made his first career start with Deshaun Watson dealing with a shoulder injury. Smith and company pounded the fifth-round rookie with four sacks, eight hits and three interceptions.
"He did set the tone this week and the thing I love about 'Ro' is he's Ro. He's himself," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"He's the best version of himself. He's honest. He's straightforward. He's a man of character and he's a leader and he backs it up. And that's what he did and all the guys had his back, and as a coach, you're going to be proud of that."
On Friday afternoon, Smith was unaware that his comments had stirred up something in Cleveland this week. He doesn't talk to make waves. He isn't a social media guy. But he also doesn't care that they did.
"Honestly, if you need bulletin board material in this game to go play the game a different way, you're playing the game for the wrong reasons," Smith said. "I don't need anybody to say anything for me, because guess what? When that whistle blows, I'm going 100 miles an hour all game long, and regardless of what someone says, 'Ro' is going to play the same way."
Smith led the Ravens with 10 tackles, including one for loss. He also had two passes defensed and one quarterback hit. Smith and fellow inside linebacker Patrick Queen continued to show why they're the top inside linebacker duo in the league, dictating the game from start to finish.
"I have not played with anyone like Roquan. In 10 years, no linebacker I've ever played with [has been] better than him," outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney said.
"I have a lot of friends that played with me, too, at linebacker, but they don't have the attitude or intensity they play with like Roquan Smith since I've played in the League. He'll be a big reason why our defense goes the way it goes. He's bringing the best out of a lot of guys around him. When you have a leader like that that's going to put it all out there not just on Sundays, but on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, the whole week, and you come to the game, and it just rolls over. It rubs off on people. It's contagious. We just stick together, and 'Go Ro.'"
On the flight home, as teammate Marlon Humphrey held his celebratory Instagram live, Smith and Queen, who had another strong game, were silent. They had done all the talking they needed to.