ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It was so wet, colt and windy in upstate New York Sunday, Buffalo Coach Mary Levy said, "The weather was worse than when they landed on Normandy."
But Levy refused to blame the Bills' 13-6 loss to New England on the rain and steady 25-m.p.h. wind at Rich Stadium.
"The weather was there for both of us," said Levy, whose team could have clinched the AFC East title with victories this week and next week's season finale in Philadelphia. "We played in the same conditions as they did."
The Patriots, who joined the Bills at 7-7, used a wind-blown touchdown, a wind-induced interception and an aggressive defense that limited Buffalo to 148 net yards to keep alive their chances of repeating as AFC East champions.
New England quarterback Steve Grogan credited the steady wind with allowing Cedric Jones to score New England's first touchdown on a seven-yard reception in the first quarter.
With the wind at his back, Grogan lofted a pass into the end zone that Buffalo safety Ron Pitts seemed to be in position to defend. But the wind kept the ball up high enough for Jones to leap over Pitts and make the catch.
"C.J. made a great adjustment on the ball," said Grogan, who fractured his left hand near the end of the game.
The wind blew favorably for New England again late in the fourth quarter with the Patriots holding on to a 13-7 lead. Quarterback Jim Kelly moved Buffalo to the New England 24 before Fred Marion picked off a Kelly pass at the goal line.
"Kelly was trying to throw a seam pass to (Andre) Reed and the wind grabbed it and held it up," Marion said.
New England's defense did such a good job on the Buffalo quarterback that Levy said it was "the most I've seen Kelly struggle."
For the first time in 64 games going back to his collegiate days, Kelly failed to complete 50% of his passes. He was 13 for 31. And, for the first time in 18 games, Kelly didn't have a touchdown pass.
The Bills' only score came on defense, when Sean McNanie scooped up Reggie Dupard's fumble and ran 14 yards for a touchdown.
Dupard ran for 78 yards, including the winning touchdown on a 36-yard run in the second quarter.