PHOENIX -- Tom Tupa is getting the hang of being a starting quarterback.
Tupa, in his fourth year out of Ohio State, became the Phoenix Cardinals' starter when Timm Rosenbauch was injured before the season. He had his best game Sunday, passing for 312 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to a 24-10 victory over the New England Patriots.
'We got some big plays on offense and I felt pretty good back there, ' Tupa said. 'I got good protection and the guys made some good catches.'
Phoenix Coach Joe Bugel said, 'Tupa is really getting better at the right time. He matured as a quarterback today.'
New England Coach Dick MacPherson gushed over the Cardinals' passer.
'I want to say that one person more than anything won this game -- that was Tom Tupa,' MacPherson. 'We put pressure on him and I thought we could get to him, but he just came out with great stamina and made some great plays.'
Tupa engineered touchdown drives of 80, 94 and 80 yards and threw scoring strikes of 17 yards to Ernie Jones, 15 yards to Johnny Johnson and 62 yards to Ricky Proehl.
He completed 17 of 28 attempts and threw one interception. Jones had eight catches for 145 yards and Proehl four receptions for 107 yards.
Anthony Thompson rushed for 98 yards on 26 carries for the Cardinals.
The Patriots' scores came on a 99-yard kickoff return by Jon Vaughn and a 39-yard field goal by Jason Staurovsky.
Both Bugel and MacPherson felt the heat was a factor. Sun Devil Stadium officials estimated the temperature on the field was 115 degrees.
'That's our ally,' Bugel said. 'I know it's uncomfortable for the fans, but we play tough in the hot weather.'
MacPherson said, 'I would hope that anybody who reports on the game will take into consideration the heat factor and the effort these guys made. It's tough when it's 115 degrees on the field.'
Tupa iced the victory by hitting Proehl on a third down and four situation from the Phoenix 38 with 3:10 remaining in the game. Proehl's sprint into the end zone for 62 yards was the longest reception of his three-year NFL career and gave the Cardinals a 21-10 lead.
Tupa sealed the victory by hitting Proehl on a third-and-four from the Phoenix 38 with 3:10 left. The play was the longest reception in Proehl's three-year NFL career and gave the Cardinals a 21-10 lead.
Greg Davis closed the scoring with a 47-yard field goal for Phoenix with 1:42 left.
Tupa's 17-yard yard strike to Jones capped an 80-yard drive to make it 7-0 in the second quarter. The lead lasted only 19 seconds however, because Vaugn took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to make it 7-7.
The Cardinals then marched 94 yards in 12 plays, using 6:09 and scoring on Tupa's 15-yard pass to Johnson for a 14-7 lead. Tupa kept the drive alive with third-down passes of 17 yards to Terrence Flagler and 15-yards to Randal Hill.
Tupa completed 13 of 17 passes for 203 yards in the first half. Thompson had 61 yards rushing.
After a scoreless third period, Staurovsky drew the Patriots to within 14-10 with 6:64 left in the game. Proehl's TD came five plays later.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for Phoenix, 3-2, and dropped New England to 2-3.
Patriots quarterback Hugh Millen completed 12 of 21 passes for 104 yards, six to tight end Marv Cook for 47 yards.