J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans celebrates his fumble recovery...

J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans celebrates his fumble recovery during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. Credit: Getty Images / Gregory Shamus

CLEVELAND -- The Browns were knocked out of first place in the AFC North because they were knocked around by All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans on a cold Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Bullied by the Texans defense and rushing attack, the Browns lost 23-7 and fell to 6-4 this season.

The Cincinnati Bengals, meanwhile, defeated the New Orleans Saints 27-10 on Sunday, improving to 6-3-1 and moving back into first place in the division after falling 24-3 to the Browns on Nov. 6.

So now the Browns are in a three-way tie with the Baltimore Ravens (6-4), who have a bye this weekend, and the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4), who will visit the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

Watt compiled five tackles, including a sack and three for loss. He forced a fumble and recovered another. The Texans entered the game with an NFL-high 21 takeaways, and they added two more.

Rookie Alfred Blue started at running back for the Texans (5-5) because three-time Pro Bowler Arian Foster was inactive with a groin injury. Foster entered the weekend with 822 rushing yards, best in the AFC and second in the NFL. Blue finished with a franchise-record 36 carries for 156 yards (4.3 average).

Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer completed just 20-of-50 passes (40 percent) for 330 yards and one touchdown with one interception. His passer rating was 61.2. He took two sacks and fumbled once but recovered.

Texans kicker Randy Bullock missed a 52-yard field goal wide right with 9:16 left in the third quarter. The Browns took over at their 42-yard line after the failed attempt, but their drive ended with a punt to the Texans' 12.

The Texans responded with a 10-play, 60-yard drive, and Bullock earned redemption with a successful 46-yard field goal. It gave the Texans a 17-7 advantage with 5:16 left in the third quarter.

The Texans' next possession ended with outside linebacker Paul Kruger dropping a would-be interception near Houston's 30-yard line. But the next time they got the ball, Bullock delivered again. His 37-yard field goal put the finishing touches on a 13-play, 38-yard drive that lasted 5 minutes, 28 seconds and gave the Texans a 20-7 lead with 9:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.

After tight end Ryan Taylor's holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff wiped out a Marlon Moore's 104-yard return for a touchdown, the Browns threatened to rally. They marched to the Texans' 22, and on fourth-and-9, Hoyer's pass hit wide receiver Miles Austin in the gut, but he failed to secure the ball. Many fans reacted by heading for the exits with 6:54 left.

Hoyer's interception during the Browns' next possession sealed the Texans' win. Inside linebacker Mike Mohamed caught the pass off a deflection by Austin with 4:01 left, and Bullock made a 50-yard field goal with 2:47 remaining to lift the Texans to a 23-7 advantage.

The Texans seized a 14-7 halftime lead after the Browns wasted a golden opportunity in the red zone.

On first-and-10 at the Texans' 19 with the score tied 7-7, rookie running back Isaiah Crowell fumbled when inside linebacker Brian Cushing knocked the ball away. Watt recovered at the Texans' 22 with 3:06 left in the second quarter.

The Texans capitalized by exploiting a Browns defense devoid of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was knocked out of the game with a knee injury during their previous possession. They capped a nine-play, 78-yard drive with quarterback Ryan Mallett's 20-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Graham and went ahead 14-7 with 23 seconds left in the first half. Mallett prevailed in the first regular-start of his four-year NFL career.

Watt didn't hesitate to make his presence felt on both sides of the ball.

He ended the Texans' second possession with a 2-yard touchdown catch, capping a 12-play, 89-yard drive to give them a 7-0 lead with 7:09 left in the first quarter. Watt lined up left as a receiver, ran a fade route into the end zone and caught Mallett's pass over rookie inside linebacker Chris Kirksey while falling. A replay review confirmed the catch, and Watt became the first defensive lineman since 1948 to score four touchdowns in a season. He had a 1-yard touchdown catch, an interception return for a touchdown and another touchdown off a fumble recovery earlier in the season.

During the next series, the Browns marched to the Texans' 14. Then on third-and-7, Watt strip-sacked Hoyer, who recovered the fumble but lost 6 yards. The Browns settled for a 38-yard field goal, but Billy Cundiff missed it wide right with 3:46 remaining in the first quarter.

The Texans gained possession and took a shot at the end zone during the next series, only to be denied. On third-and-2 from Browns' 29, Mallett threw a deep pass intended for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but cornerback Joe Haden tipped the ball and intercepted it in the front of the end zone with 30 seconds left in the first quarter. It was Haden's first pick this season.

The Browns failed to capitalize, though, and didn't score until Watt gave them a gift by being too aggressive. They were granted a first down with 10:22 left in the second quarter because Watt was penalized for his second roughing the punter penalty of the game on fourth-and-28 from the Browns' 20.

Four plays later, Hoyer connected with wide receiver Andrew Hawkins for a 32-yard touchdown, and the Browns tied the score 7-7 with 8:58 left in the first half. Hawkins broke free, caught Hoyer's pass near the 21 and ran into the end zone as wide receiver Miles Austin cleared a path by blocking cornerback Jonathan Joseph in front of the goal line.

The Browns will play four of their final six games on the road, including the next two. But they'll also get back All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon for the final six games. His suspension will officially be lifted Monday, and the Browns need a boost after taking a beating from the Texans.

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