Kenny Jackett's men turned on the style to put the Black Cats to the sword with a second-half super show at Fratton Park, in Saturday's 3-1 win..
Three goals in 15 minutes did the damage in front of the biggest home crowd in seven years, as they inflicted just a second league defeat this term on Jack Ross' side.
It sees the Blues take the upper hand in the League One title race as they sit four points clear at Christmas and the season's half-way point.
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Hawkins told of the hunger in the Pompey dressing room to make their mark in the meeting of the two fancied contenders - and also send out a statement to League One.
He said: '˜This result just shows that we are a big team this season.
'˜We don't want to come off top spot.
'˜We're going to do everything we can to keep this going, keep clean sheets and keep picking up results.
'˜At the moment it's working and I believe we can keep doing it.
'˜In the past two games we had a loss and a draw.
'˜Without people looking they wouldn't know we deserved a draw in the second half against Charlton.
'˜At Barnsley we went 1-0 up and got a draw.
'˜We could have been looking at seven points from the three games.
'˜We've taken four and we'll take it and hopefully keep picking up points.
'˜They (Sunderland) are a big club and there's no doubt they are the main threat this season along with Luton.
'˜We just wanted to show them what we are about - and we managed to do that.
'˜We haven't always been at our best at home but I felt we were against Sunderland, especially in the second half.
'˜We got that 2-0 lead and it excited the crowd. We knew we had more goals in us and the third goal put it to bed.'
Hawkins took centre stage with an impressive display in the win, playing a role in all three Pompey goals.
The key moment saw the 26-year-old brought down by Glenn Loovens in the box after the restart, in an incident which saw the defender sent off and Gareth Evans put his side in front from the spot.
Despite the protestations of Sunderland boss Jack Ross, Hawkins feels the red card was the right call.
He added: '˜For me, it felt that if he fouled me he stopped me from shooting and having a good chance one-on-one with the keeper.
'˜I think the ref can only send him off and I knew as soon as there was contact that was what the ref was going to do.
'˜I don't think it's harsh, I think it's the right decision.
'˜If there was a defender next to me it could've been a yellow, but there wasn't and I think it was the right decision.'