Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Ryan Mallett picked up a win in his first career start, completing 20-of-30 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns, as the Houston Texans claimed a 23-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 11 action.
"I'm just glad it went this way," said Mallett. "But it's one game. We've got six more to go. We have to go to work when we get back and get ready for the Bengals."
Randy Bullock also converted three second-half field goals for the Texans (5-5), who have won two of their last three. Alfred Blue contributed a career- best 156 yards on 36 carries, while J.J. Watt and Garrett Graham posted a touchdown reception apiece.
Brian Hoyer threw for 330 yards and a TD but connected on just 20-of-50 passes and was picked off once for the Browns (6-4), who slipped out of first place in the AFC North.
Andrew Hawkins finished with 97 yards and the hosts' lone score on six receptions, while Isaiah Crowell totaled 61 yards on 14 carries.
Bullock missed wide right from 52 yards out on Houston's first drive of the third quarter, but Cleveland had a short offensive series before he made good from 46 yards away to cap the Texans' next touch and it was 17-7 for the visitors.
Bullock then converted a 37-yard attempt in the early stages of the fourth to make it 20-7.
Marlon Moore's subsequent 104-yard kickoff return TD was nullified by a holding call, and later in the Browns' ensuing series, Miles Austin dropped a sure first down on 4th-and-9 from the Houston 22. With a personal foul on the Browns, the Texans took over on their own 37 with 6:49 remaining.
Houston punted, then Hoyer was picked off by Mike Mohamed five plays later at the Texans' 28-yard line. After failing to gain much ground on a 3rd-and-8 from the Browns' 34, Bullock pulled a 50 yarder through the uprights and the Texans led 23-7 with 2:47 to play.
Hoyer's pass fell incomplete on 4th-and-10 from the Texans' 29, and Mallett took a knee twice to end the contest.
"To have the momentum and a little bit of time off, it's disappointing to come out and play that way," said Browns head coach Mike Pettine. "We got beat soundly in all three phases. We came up small at the bigger moments."
Houston capitalized on its second drive of the contest, as Mallett threw toward the back-left corner of the end zone where Watt came down with the ball and a knee in bounds.
Billy Cundiff pulled a 38-yarder well to the right when the Browns got the ball back, but Joe Haden picked off Mallett in the end zone on a pass intended for DeAndre Hopkins to derail the Texans' next scoring bid.
Cleveland evened the score with 8:58 left before halftime as Hoyer rolled to his right and found Hawkins for a 32-yard connection.
Watt recovered a Crowell fumble at his own 22 with just over three minutes left, and Houston turned it into the go-ahead score with 23 seconds to go on Mallett's third straight pass to Graham -- this one a 20-yard TD catch.
Both Mallett and Hoyer had served as backups to Tom Brady with the New England Patriots ... Houston has won three straight and five of its eight meetings with Cleveland since joining the NFL in 2002 ... The Texans defense held the Browns to 3-of-15 efficiency on third down ... Cleveland lost linebacker Karlos Dansby in the second quarter to a left knee injury ... Watt has recorded the most TD receptions in one season (4) than any defensive lineman since 1948.