The Ravens offense fired the ball more downfield. They stayed more balanced with the run game.
But while offensive players were happy with the changes made under new Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, they were in no mood to celebrate after Sunday's 27-23 loss to the New York Giants because one problem got worse.
More than midway through the third quarter, the Ravens had as many penalties (12) as first downs. The Ravens finished with 391 yards of total offense, but a whopping 15 penalties for 111 yards, including seven for 50 yards on the offense.
"There's nothing more [coaches] can do," wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "The players, we have to take ownership of not getting those penalties and killing drives and killing our team."
The Ravens offense started with a bang under Mornhinweg, jumping out to a 10-0 lead.
A 41-yard bomb to wide receiver Breshad Perriman put the Ravens in position for a 23-yard field goal on the game's opening drive. Then the offense capitalized on a fumble by Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on their first play from scrimmage, as running back Terrance West leapt over the pile and into the end zone.
But with the Ravens defense dominating early on (the Giants had just 33 yards on their first four drives), Baltimore's offense failed to extend the lead in the second quarter.
A large reason for that was those dreaded penalties.
The Ravens' third drive flamed out near midfield when an illegal formation penalty on Wallace wiped out a 19-yard gain to fullback Kyle Juszczyk on third-and-10. The Ravens punted.
"Those are drive killers, they're morale killers," Wallace said. "We can't do that, I can't do that. Whoever is getting penalties, none of us can do that. There's no more to say than penalties, that's what's killing us."
On the next drive, after being gifted with a free first down via a Giants special teams penalty, the offense marched to the 35-yard line, but went backwards after a holding penalty on tight end Crockett Gillmore and delay of game, knocking themselves out of field-goal range.
On the first drive of the second half, rookie left tackle Alex Lewis was called for holding and a false start on back-to-back plays. An offensive holding penalty on West opened the next drive after Baltimore's defense gave the unit great field position with an interception by cornerback Tavon Young. The Ravens settled for a 39-yard field goal.
Even at the very end of the game, the Ravens had a delay of game that made their final pass from the 29-yard line instead of the 24.
"We had some holding calls, and it's guys fighting and trying to block as hard as they can. It's tough in there," Flacco said. "At the same time, if we want to be successful, if we want to win, we've got to find a way to stop committing them."
While penalties were a problem, the Ravens at least walked away from Sunday's game feeling better about the direction of their offense under Mornhinweg.
The Ravens showed good balance, and stuck with the run game throughout the contest. West ran 23 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns without left tackle Ronnie Stanley, Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and right tackle Rick Wagner blocking for him.
The one black mark was not punching the ball into the end zone when running four times on the goal line. The Ravens were stopped on fourth-and-1 when West swept outside and lost yardage.
"You can tell we're getting better," West said. "We were well-balanced. We were getting in a groove. Every time, we're just one play away. … I felt comfortable. We passed the ball at the right time, we ran the ball, but we just came up short."
The passing attack was aggressive in getting the ball down the field several times when given the opportunity. They hit plays of 41 yards (Perriman), 70 yards (Wallace) and 22 yards (Kamar Aiken).
The Ravens also picked up 42 yards and 30 yards on two defensive pass interference penalties against the Giants in the fourth quarter. Those are just as good as completions.
"That makes me happy," Perriman said of the long balls. "We knew one of us [between he and Wallace] was going to get one or two this game. Mike had a huge play. I feel like I caught it when he caught it."
In the end, the Ravens offense without three linemen and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. shot itself in the foot.
But, unlike after last week's deflating loss to the Washington Redskins, players had more hope for the product moving forward.
"We'll get there," Wallace said. "We're so close. We could be the best team in the league or the worst team in the league. It's on us to stop these penalties."