ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., JAN. 13 -- During 29 years in the NFL, much praise has flowed toward Ted Marchibroda, now the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. Until this season, however, few thought of him as especially bold.

Marchibroda did not invent the no-huddle offense that has worked so well during 14 victories in 17 games. He did install it -- and gave quarterback Jim Kelly free rein under maximum pressure and lousy weather in the AFC divisional playoff Saturday against the Dolphins.

As an assistant for most of his pro career, and head coach of the Colts for three seasons in the mid-1970s, Marchibroda often was criticized for being too conservative. His game plan Saturday even included a halfback pass to quarterback Kelly, whose injured left knee kept him inactive since Dec. 15.

"It was a couple of things," Marchibroda said of the decision to go with the no-huddle. "My first year here, we were down by two touchdowns against Houston with four minutes to play and Jim brought us back.

"Last year there were three times when we had to score the last two times we had the ball to win -- the Rams, Miami and Houston. So I said to myself: 'If it's so successful at the end of the half and the end of games, why would it not be successful during the regular course of the game?

"So we opened up with it against Indianapolis -- and it's been going ever since."

The Bills scored without the no-huddle during their first possession in the snow, with Kelly hitting wide-open Andre Reed over the middle on what turned into a 40-yard touchdown pass. The no-huddle was a factor during many of the later scoring drives.

Instead of slipping back into a ground-it-out gear early in the fourth quarter -- when the Dolphins closed to 30-27 -- the Bills stayed with the no-huddle attack. It consumed more than four minutes, 11 plays in all, and produced another touchdown.

"And if I remember correctly," said Marchibroda, who did, "the first play was a pass for 20 yards to {James} Lofton. {Kelly} made all the keys. He makes all the calls in this no-huddle situation. He knows what's going on and what he has to do."

Oddly, Bills Coach Marv Levy was on the other side in a controversy about the no-huddle offense before Buffalo played the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC championship game two years ago. Then he criticized Bengals Coach Sam Wyche for violating an informal coaches' agreement not to use such trickery. The Bengals hardly used the tactic as they beat Buffalo, 21-10, and went to the Super Bowl.

But Levy obviously liked the maneuver more than he let on then.

On Saturday, by completing 19 of 29 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns and running five times in key situations for 37 yards, Kelly was dominant -- and perhaps not injured as badly as he had led outsiders to believe.

However, "I think with his injury, subconsciously, every lineman knew he was going to have to protect extra well," center Kent Hull said. "We felt we needed to hold out blocks a little longer."

One of the surprises was how effective both offenses were under conditions that included game-long snow and sleet and 14 mph winds.

It was the highest-scoring regulation-length game in NFL playoff history, exceeded only by the 79 points scored in San Diego's 41-38 double-overtime victory over Miami in 1981.

"Every once in a while," said Lofton, who caught seven passes for 149 yards and a 44-yard touchdown, "I'll see somebody and he'll try to do a little too much. You see, all you do is just make the play. If you continue to do that, then the big play will happen.

"But if you go out there thinking you've got to do something spectacular, that's usually when the ball slips through your hands or you fumble or you run the route incorrectly."

Neither team got a sack and Bills defensive end Bruce Smith said, "You couldn't pass-rush; you couldn't turn the corner."

Teammate Thurman Thomas, who gained 117 yards on 32 carries and caught three passes for 38 yards, didn't mind the conditions at all.

"No problem at all," he said.

When that opinion was relayed to Smith, he smiled and said: "Thurman's only five feet tall."