CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When training camp began in late July, the New Orleans Saints were united and defiant in the wake of the bounty scandal.
Despite the offseason distractions that included the season-long suspension of coach Sean Payton, the Saints reported to camp believing they could become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.
Their ultimate goal, of course, on the night of Feb. 3 was to be handed the Vince Lombardi Trophy by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who had slapped the Saints with the most severe penalties in league history.
Two games into the season, the Saints are united and defiant. But after two straight losses, neither of which they saw coming, they're adamant about one thing: righting their first 0-2 start since 2007.
It's not going to be easy, especially after Sunday's 35-27 setback to the Carolina Panthers put them in an uncomfortable situation. No team that started 0-2 from 2009-11, 24 of them in all, qualified for the playoffs.
After Sunday's home game with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are also 0-2, the Saints close the pre-bye part of their schedule at Green Bay (1-1) and at home against San Diego (2-0).
While they could think about the 162 teams that have started 0-2 and didn't make the playoffs, the Saints coaching staff is focusing on the 22 teams that did make it since the postseason field was expanded in 1990.
Most notably, they pointed out the three teams, the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, 2001 New England Patriots and 2007 New York Giants, that managed to win the Super Bowl after that kind of start.
Before they can think of that, they have to win their first game with an offense that's struggled at times and a defense that hasn't shown the ability to stop opposing teams.