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John Harbaugh admits Ravens victory over Steelers is "a big deal"

John Harbaugh admits Ravens victory over Steelers is "a big deal"

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Some early season NFL victories are more meaningful than others, especially one within your own division, on the road against your biggest rival.

So, after Ravens coach John Harbaugh insisted Monday that Baltimore had already turned its focus toward its next game, he acknowledged that beating Pittsburgh on Sunday night was pretty darn special.

"It's a big deal," Harbaugh declared. "It's a big deal because the road runs through Pittsburgh the last couple of years to win the division. You start with that."

Yes, there's more than one reason why the 26-14 victory was so satisfying to the Ravens (3-1), who moved into a tie with Cincinnati atop the AFC North.

"You have to win division games to win the division. That's the next thing," Harbaugh said. "And it's the Steelers. We hadn't beaten them three games in a row and three years in a row there. So to go up there and win means a lot to us."

Pittsburgh has captured the last two AFC North titles and three of the last four, earning a wild-card berth with its second-place finish in 2015.

The Ravens, on the other hand, have gone three straight years without a playoff berth. Perhaps this victory could serve as a step in that direction.

"What a freaking win. Wow," said safety Eric Weddle, now in his third year with Baltimore. "We talk about all the time: You can't become a true Raven until you win in Pittsburgh, so I've officially become a Raven. What a great team win, from the offense controlling the clock, to making big plays (and) our defense shutting them out in the second half."

Not to mention solid play by the special teams. Justin Tucker accounted for all the game's points in the second half after the Steelers rallied from a 14-0 deficit to pull even at halftime.

It all added up to a feel-good victory that made Monday in Baltimore a bit easier to tolerate.

"I've heard that the fans are having a great day today," Harbaugh said. "My wife said she's out and about, everybody's talking about the game and everybody's fired up and happy. Even the people who went to bed at halftime. Look what you missed."

For those who slept through it, the recap is simple: Baltimore held the ball for 21 minutes, limited the Steelers to three first downs and did not allow Pittsburgh to get past midfield.

With one-quarter of the season over with, it's hard to determine the Ravens' identity. At times, they've been an offensive powerhouse, at other times a defensive steamroller.

Joe Flacco threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns against the Steelers and now has eight TD passes compared to a pair of interceptions. The defense, meanwhile, hasn't given up a touchdown in the second half.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith returned to the team Monday and will practice this week after serving a four-game suspension from the NFL for using performance enhancers.

"Rumor has it he got here at 8 o'clock," Harbaugh said. "He did not beat me in, for the record, but he was here and he's been working out. We're expecting him to practice Wednesday."

The Ravens expect Smith will be ready for Sunday's road game against Cleveland (1-2-1).

"If he's in shape and if he practices well and looks like he can go," Harbaugh said.

Baltimore also hopes to have tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) and defensive tackle Willie Henry (abdomen).

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Ravens' Lamar Jackson aspiring to become the Tom Brady of Baltimore

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens' Lamar Jackson aspiring to become the Tom Brady of Baltimore

It only took Lamar Jackson seven weeks to get the city of Baltimore behind him. 

Since becoming the Ravens' starter in Week 11, Jackson pulled his team out of a three-game losing streak, going 6-1 down the stretch, and earned the franchise their first playoff appearance in three season.

That's quite impressive for a rookie, but the 22-year-old wants his time in Baltimore to resemble arguably the greatest to ever do it. 

"Ain't no ceiling," Jackson said on his limitations in an interview with Ray Lewis for Showtime's 'Inside the NFL.' "I already said it, when I got drafted, I want to bring a Super Bowl to Baltimore, so I'm going to try to bring as much as I can. I want to bring a Super Bowl here. I want to be the Brady. Bring multiple if I could."

Through 19 seasons, Tom Brady has brought five Lombardi Trophy's to the city of Boston and is currently in the race for a sixth. It's a feat that may never be repeated, but Jackson sure wants to try.

The young quarterback's speed is something that separates him from the 41-year-old veteran. In just seven games, Jackson rushed for more yards (695) than every other quarterback in 2018, and his 119 rushing yards against the Cincinnati Bengals was the most ever by a QB in their starting debut. 

“Probably when, like, I'm playing football with my older cousins,” Jackson told Lewis on when he realized he was the fastest kid on the block. “I used to play with all the older guys. I never played with, really, my age group when I was younger. ... There would be a new kid come on the block, and they'd be like, 'Oh, this kid, he's good,' this and that. So I get jealous, because I'm like, 'Man, I'm the best kid over here,' so I'm going to outperform him.”

His speed is such a threat that the Ravens have already begun shaping their future around it, while accuracy and ball security remain a work in progress. Jackson finished his rookie campaign completing 99 of 170 passes for 1,201 yards and six touchdowns. 

While reaching Brady-type success will be an uphill battle, the good news is he's got 18 or more seasons to hit his goal. Jackson will get his first taste of Brady in 2019 when the Ravens host the Patriots. 

You can watch Jackson and Lewis' full interview Tuesday at 9 p.m..

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Lamar Jackson finishes rookie campaign with the most quarterback rushing yards

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Lamar Jackson finishes rookie campaign with the most quarterback rushing yards

You couldn't have predicted Lamar Jackson's rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens if you tried.

After trading up in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Jackson with the 32nd overall pick, the 22-year-old came in and earned the starting job from an injured Joe Flacco, while leading the Ravens to their first playoff appearance in three seasons.

Jackson had a record-breaking rookie campaign, but also left room to build off of as he becomes the Ravens' leader for the foreseeable future.

Here are 13 key numbers behind his rookie season. 

6-1: Jackson's record as a starter during the regular season. His only defeat was a 27-24 OT loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14. Ben Roethlisberger (7-0) and Dak Prescott (6-1) were the only other rookie QBs with at least six wins in their first seven starts.

1,201: Jackson completed 99 of 170 passes for 1,201 yards and six touchdowns in 2018.

695: The rookie's 695 rushing yards is the most by all NFL quarterbacks in 2018. It also ranks 11th most by a quarterback in NFL single-season-history and third by a rookie quarterback behind Robert Griffin III (815) and Cam Newton (706).

204: Career-high passing yards against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 16. 

119: Jackson's 119 rushing yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11 was the most by a QB in their starting debut. 

84.5: The rookie finished the 2018 season with a 84.5 QB rating. 

68: Jackson connected with tight end Mark Andrews for a 68-yard touchdown Week 16 against the Chargers for the teams longest offensive score of the season. 

21: How old Jackson was in the Ravens' Wild Card loss to the Chargers, making him the youngest QB to start a playoff game in the history of the NFL. The Ravens played the Chargers on Jan. 6, and Jackson turned 22 on Jan. 7. 

16: The number of times Jackson was sacked this season.

12: The number of fumbles Jackson had in 2018, but only four were recovered by the opposing team.

6.81: Jackson averaged 6.81 passing yards-per-attempt through 12 games.

5: The QB produced five of the Ravens' 19 rushing touchdowns in 2018.

3: Number of interceptions Jackson had through 12 games.

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