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Call it a big victory for the Buffalo Bills on the football field and a rough night for security officers trying to keep order in the stands.

Led by the passing, running and even the blocking of quarterback Doug Flutie, the Bills won an important 17-3 victory over the New York Jets in Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday night.

The Bills' tough defense and surprisingly strong running game sent the Jets back to New York with an 0-2 record for the season. The Bills are 1-1.

Playing the nationally televised game in perfect late-summer weather, the Bills got off to a slow start but took control of the game with a strong effort in the second quarter.

But how did the Bills do in their battle to control rowdiness in the stands and parking lots at Wilson Stadium?

"It was a rough night, in terms of fighting in the stands," said Orchard Park Police Chief Samuel McCune. "As always, alcohol was the catalyst. You can stop people from carrying beer and liquor bottles into the stadium, but it's hard to control the amount of alcohol they are carrying in their bodies."

A total of 16 fans were arrested during the game, and dozens more were ejected from the stadium for fighting.

Bills security officials had to break up dozens of fights during the game, which was attended by a large contingent of Jets fans.

"Things were going very well, and then all hell broke loose in the second half," an exhausted Bill Bambach, security chief for the Bills, said early today.

Most fights were in the end zone sections, where many of the Jets fans were sitting. But police said the number of violent incidents was fairly typical for a night game before a fired-up crowd in Orchard Park.

"There are certainly some people who have been partying hard before this game," said Chief Thomas Staebell of the Erie County Sheriff's Department.

Fans seemed generally happy with the redesigned stadium and the Bills new game plan to attack violence and drunken behavior in the stands.

The effort includes a larger contingent of security guards and police officers, wearing fluorescent yellow-green jackets. It also includes a prohibition against bringing any kind of drink containers into the stadium, and a shutoff of beer sales after halftime.

There was no missing the security personnel as they rode through the parking lots on golf carts or made their way through the stands in search of troublemakers. And most fans seemed happy to see them there.

"As a season ticket-holder, I think it's wonderful," said Town of Tonawanda resident Gary Stanton, who attended the game with his wife, Lucy.

"The green jackets are great. I think one of the most important parts of law enforcement is visibility, and you can really see those guys in these jackets."

"The Bills have to crack down," said Charles Williams, 25, of Rochester. "It's OK to have a few beers at a football game. Screaming and swearing and getting rowdy are natural parts of football. But people have to act responsibly. You can't let them go out and ruin the game for others."

Not every football fan, however, is on board with the Bills' effort to make the games more family-oriented.

John Whitaker, 21, a West Seneca construction worker, was leading a band of partyers who drew some attention with a huge banner they unfurled in one of the stadium parking lots. The banner featured several drawings of topless women, and the words, "Show Us Your (breasts)."

"My buddy and I spent $220 each on party supplies, dude, and we've been partying since noon," Whitaker said shortly before 8 p.m. "Eight women have come by so far and showed us their (breasts)."

Whitaker said he did not see why any football fan would be upset by the sign.

Fans were kicking a football into a rental truck and chanting obscene language at a nearby tailgate bash. One of the revelers there would only identify himself as Mike D. He scoffed at the Bills' new security efforts.

"It's like, all of a sudden, they're going to start cracking down," Mike D. said.

"If you don't want to hear the language, or see all the drinking or the behavior, just don't sit in the end zone," Mike D. said. "If they try to cut down on (partying) so much, no one will come."

Several fans among the 68,839 who attended the game were grumbling about the new rule barring thermos bottles, and many said the new seats installed in the stadium do not provide enough legroom.

"I have no room for my legs," said season ticket-holder Donald Flaig of Kenmore. "It was a lot better for me with the old bench seats."

But Jim Walleshauser of Fredonia was enthralled with his new club seat.

"The drinking and the fights, you don't need that here. What they're trying to do is build the perfect thing. It's the way it should be," Walleshauser said. "The camaraderie is awesome. It's fabulous."

The refreshment stand at the nearby Van Miller Press Box Club was featuring a menu quite unlike the stadium food most Bills fans are used to. The menu included antipasto on foccacia bread, turkey club wraps, and char-grilled chicken Caesar salad.

Tim Booker of Evans had his new heated seat turned on even though the weather was beautiful.

"Why would you want to turn it off?" Booker said. "It's back therapy."

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