-- If playing nerve-racking, gut-wrenching games every week can give a team an edge in the AFC playoffs, then the Cleveland Browns might be favorites.
"It seems like the last month we've had to win every game," place kicker Phil Dawson said. "So is this any different?"
Just a little.
The Browns (9-7), who have embodied the craziness of this NFL season more than any other team, will make their first postseason appearance since 1994 -- minus three years Cleveland didn't have a franchise -- Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Based on the recent matchups between the hated rivals, and the Browns' penchant for heart-stopping finishes this season, it's safe to assume it will go down to the wire.
Or even to overtime.
Strange, but it seems that's how the Browns like it.
After all, this is the team that won on a game with a desperation pass, and lost with a thrown helmet. It's also the same team that lost its quarterback to a broken leg last Sunday, and then won with a goal-line stand in the final minute.
"Pretty crazy," said quarterback Kelly Holcomb, who will start this week for the injured Tim Couch.
Cleveland had 12 games decided in the final 60 seconds this season, including its last three. The Browns have had 19 games in the past two years go down to the last minute.
The Browns, who won seven of their final 10 games, went 6-6 in those 12 thrillers. They're convinced that experiencing all that drama will only help them survive in the do-or-die postseason.
"I think it gives us a real big edge," Holcomb said. "We've been in a lot of tight games, and it's been about a month that we've had playoff-type games. We haven't had much room for error if we were going to get in these things [playoffs]."
The Steelers swept the two regular season games with the Browns, but only by a combined six points. Pittsburgh won 16-13 in overtime at home, and 23-20 at Cleveland.
Steelers Coach Bill Cowher has been impressed by the Browns' ability to keep games within reach, especially on the road where they went 6-2. He doesn't expect them to be intimidated.
"Every game they've played, they're in it in the fourth quarter," Cowher said. "If you keep playing games like that, you become callous and you don't let things bother you. They feel like they're never out of a game."
The Browns are hoping the experience gained from their roller coaster of a regular season will compensate for not having many players with postseason background.
Only 15 players on Cleveland's current 53-man roster have previously been in the playoffs.
Safety Robert Griffith has the most tenure, appearing in nine playoff games with Minnesota.
During a team meeting Thursday, Browns Coach Butch Davis asked some of his playoff veterans to share their memories of playing in the postseason with Cleveland's younger players.
"What Coach Davis did was special," said linebacker Earl Holmes, a member of three playoff teams in Pittsburgh before signing with Cleveland as a free agent in April. "Guys talked about the pros and cons of playing in the playoffs. I think the young guys got a lot out of it. Even myself, looking back to last year, we [Steelers] were one game away from the Super Bowl and fell short."
It will be Davis's first time in the playoffs as a head coach, too, and he doesn't want his players surprised by anything.
"The more you share with them, the better prepared they are for what they run into," Davis said.
Tackle Ryan Tucker was one of the vets who spoke.
Before signing with the Browns last March, Tucker spent six seasons in St. Louis, winning a Super Bowl ring with the Rams in 1999. Tucker said the '02 Browns remind him of the '99 Rams, who went from 3-13 to a title.
"We have the hunger here we had in St. Louis," Tucker said. "We were underdogs and weren't expected to do what we did and we took it game by game in the playoffs. We weren't just happy to get there."
Tucker likes the Browns' chances this week, and if they get past the Steelers, next week in Oakland as well.
"I think we can make a big run," he said.
They have to start with the Steelers, and Tucker knows that with these Browns, it won't be easy.
In all likelihood, Cleveland will probably find itself down by 14 points, late in the game needing another fantastic finish.
"You know what," Tucker said. "If that happens, we won't care because we've pulled so many off. Obviously, we would like to be in a better position than that, but if that's what it comes down to, and we have to go 90-some yards with no timeouts, then so be it.
"We've been there before."