Houston (SPORTSRADIO 610) – Without all-pro defensive end J.J. Watt, and sack master Whitney Mercilus, the Houston Texans defense, needed players to step up against the Cleveland Browns.

Sunday afternoon the defense, did just that, as they beat the Browns 33-17.

“Everybody stepped up,” linebacker Benardrick McKinney said following the game.

No Watt, no Mercilus, apparently no problem for a defense that’s allowed an average of 26 points throughout the first five games of the season.

The Texans defense battered and hit Browns quarterback Kevin Hogan all game long, rushing him into many throws. The pressure from the defense would induce Hogan into three interceptions, two by cornerback Johnathan Joseph, giving him a total of 14 as a member of the Texans, most in franchise history. Joseph’s first pick would get returned, 82 yards for a touchdown.

“I don’t know why that guy kept throwing it (to Joseph’s side), I don’t think he knew any better,” Jadeveon Clowney said when asked about Joseph’s game. “(He) has been in the league like 12-13-years and not many people throw at him, but the guy felt like he had to try him today and he made him pay, twice.”

Texans rookie middle linebacker Dylan Cole would also be the beneficiary of a Hogan pick, but after getting tackled on his return, he’d end up leaving the game, after grabbing at his hamstring.

The defense was making plays all over the field, on top of the interceptions, Hogan was also sacked four times, and he’d be penalized for an intentional grounding in the end-zone which resulted in a safety for the Texans.

“DB’s (defensive backs) locked on tight today and we rushed up front, and (Hogan) kept making a lot of bad passes,” Clowney said.

Head coach Bill O’Brien often talks about playing complementary football, without two stars like Watt, and Mercilus, the team got big plays from everyone, be it two interceptions from Joseph, a sack, two quarterback hits and two tackle for losses from D.J. Reader, to even newly signed Lamarr Houston with a sack, the whole team had a hand in the Texans picking up a win right before the bye-week.