When it's a close game and the Buffalo Bills win, law enforcement generally has an easier job of maintaining order at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"People have to pay attention, and they're happy if the Bills win. It's a better, happier crowd in general," said Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew D. Benz, in explaining why 31 people were arrested Sunday inside and outside the stadium.
But it wasn't a close game and the Bills didn't win Sunday as the New Orleans Saints scored a decisive 27-7 victory. On top of that, the game started at 4:05 p.m., allowing fans to spend more time in the parking lot partying.
"I think people tailgate a little longer when the game doesn't start until later," Benz said. "I'm pretty sure the rest of the home games are at 1 o'clock."
At the Bills first home game, a 4:05 p.m. start on Sept. 20 against Tampa Bay, it was a reasonably close game, and the Bills won, 33-20. Twenty-six people were arrested, five fewer than this past Sunday, seeming to back the notion that a close game and a win can help keep more fans on the right side of the law. Last season, authorities arrested an average of 31 or 32 people per game.
Alcohol consumption, Benz said, often is involved when a fan ends up in trouble.
The charges issued by Orchard Park police and deputized security personnel Sunday ranged from disorderly conduct to resisting arrest and criminal trespass.
Besides the 31 arrests, state police arrested two motorists after the game. Michael J. Whitman, 25, of Bradford, Pa., and Eric M. Bennett, 35, of Angelica, were charged with driving while intoxicated in separate traffic stops on Route 219. Troopers issued 19 speeding tickets.