Tupa's 72-Yard Pass Lifts Cardinals Over the Cowboys, 24-20

From Associated Press

After throwing six interceptions and being sacked six times in his first NFL start last month, Phoenix Cardinals backup quarterback Tom Tupa says all he wanted was a chance to redeem himself.

He got it Sunday and led the Cardinals to a wild 24-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

Tupa, taking over at the start of the second half after Coach Gene Stallings benched Gary Hogeboom, threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Ernie Jones, including a 72-yard bomb with 58 seconds remaining for the game-winner.

"Gene talked to me on the way into the locker room at halftime. He said to be ready and I was ready," said Tupa, who completed 14 of 22 passes for 245 yards in his fourth NFL regular-season appearance. "I've been waiting for another chance."

After Dallas (1-9) had taken a 20-17 lead on a 75-yard bomb from Troy Aikman to James Dixon with 1:43 left, Tupa lofted a pass to Jones along the sidelines on a third-and-four situation.

Jones caught the ball in stride at midfield and raced untouched into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game as Phoenix evened its record at 5-5 and kept its wild-card playoff hopes alive.

"It was a great comeback. We really hung in there and we're right back in the hunt now," Stallings said. "We gambled with the quarterback change. I just had a gut feeling."

The Cardinals didn't clinch the victory until Dixon fumbled the ensuing kickoff and rookie tight end Walter Reeves recovered at the Cowboy two. Phoenix then ran off the remaining 51 seconds.

Hogeboom was seven for 13 for 91 yards with two sacks and suffered a mild concussion late in the second quarter before Stallings benched him and played Tupa for the first time since a 17-5 loss to Philadelphia here Oct. 15.

The loss overshadowed the 379-yard passing performance of Aikman, playing for the first time since breaking his left index finger Oct. 1. Aikman completed 21 of 40 passes before leaving the game with a mild concussion after being leveled by linebacker Anthony Bell on his scoring pass to Dixon.

"I was knocked out and I didn't know what happened until Coach Johnson told me just before I got up off the field," Aikman said.

The rookie from UCLA was intercepted twice--both times by former USC All-American Tim McDonald, who returned one 53 yards for a second-quarter touchdown.

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