Griffin’s interception costs Bears in 36-35 loss

No. 33 Kansas State running back John Hubert is tackled by No. 6 Baylor cornerback Ahmad Dixon after running for a 24 yard gain during the first quarter of the game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Manhattan, Kan.Associated Press

By The Associated Press

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Robert Griffin III is willing to accept the blame just as readily as he is the praise.

Arthur Brown picked off Baylor’s star quarterback in the closing minutes Saturday — the first interception thrown by Griffin all season — setting up a 31-yard field goal by Anthony Cantele that sent unbeaten Kansas State to a 36-35 win over the No. 15 Bears.

“I take sole responsibility for that,” said Griffin, who threw for 346 yards and five touchdowns. “I’m the leader of this team. I’m the guy that’s in the Heisman race, so I’ve got to help us win that game, and we didn’t win it.

“You can look at a billion different things,” Griffin added, “but if you’re going to point the finger, point it at me.”

Griffin completed 23 of 31 passes, but he also was sacked five times by the nation’s sixth-ranked defense. The Bears also fumbled the ball away twice.

“There’s a difference between getting beat and losing, and we lost the game,” wide receiver Kendall Wright said. “We kind of beat ourselves with some special teams fumbles, and Robert threw a late interception. That’s not like him — he got hit. That’s the only reason he threw the interception. But we can’t make any excuses.”

For much of the game, Griffin targeted Wright, who caught nine passes for a school-record 201 yards and three touchdowns. Gerald McNeil had held the previous record since 1981.

None of the Bears’ five scoring drives took more than 2 minutes and 36 seconds, even though all of them covered at least 48 yards. That included a two-play, 75-yard drive that took all of 20 seconds late in the first half that gave them a 21-19 lead at the break.

Kansas State pulled ahead early in the third quarter, thanks to Klein’s 63-yard run and Angelo Pease’s 12-yard touchdown scamper, but the Bears quickly found an answer.

Griffin connected with Wright on fourth-and-5 on the Bears’ ensuing possession. Wright made a diving, over-the-shoulder grab as he slid out of the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown catch. Officials upheld the play and Baylor led 28-26.

The Wildcats put together another promising drive, but Klein was picked off by Baylor safety Sam Holl at the Bears’ 33. Griffin immediately hit Wright for 23 yards, and seven plays later, the pair connected again for a dazzling 35-yard touchdown reception. It capped an eight-play, 79-yard drive that took just 2:36 off the clock and pushed Baylor ahead 35-26.

The Bears put together an unusually long possession that coach Art Briles said gave the defense a rest and ate up the clock. But it resulted in a missed field goal, giving Kansas State an opportunity to come right back and score.

“That was demoralizing,” Briles said. “We felt like we needed to get points there, at least a field goal, to separate just a little bit. It would have made it a 12-point game. Just had a bad third down there.”

Behind another gutsy performance by quarterback Collin Klein, the Wildcats put together a 13-play, 70-yard touchdown drive to get within 35-33, and their defense — which stopped Miami four times at the goal line in a 28-24 win a week ago — once again made a stand.

Brown slid across the middle to pick off Griffin, and Cantele hit the go-ahead field goal after missing earlier in the game. Four chances on offense failed to net a first down for the Bears, and they headed home after failing to start 4-0 for the first time since 1991.

“Not to knock on K-State’s defense — they showed up and played well — but in our opinion, we didn’t do the things that we needed to do to be successful,” Griffin said. “It’s not that they did anything specific to shut us down, obviously, big plays. We’ve just go to take care of the ball, whether it’s kickoff returns or on the football field as an offense.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball and we didn’t do that. When we did do that, we ate them alive, so that’s what we look forward to doing the rest of the season.”