The Brazilian midfielder grabbed the equalising goal for Andre Villas-Boas' side to cancel out Adam Johnson's opener, and the visitors to the Stadium of Light seized the momentum to take all three points.
John O'Shea's 50th-minute own goal gave Tottenham back-to-back wins in the Premier League and kept them within touching distance of Liverpool in second place.
Paulinho was delighted to record his second league goal of the season, but insisted the team's success meant more to him.
"It was an important goal but the most important thing was that we got the three points," he told the club's official website.
"We played so well. We showed real concentration after we conceded the first goal and we were ready to score soon after.
"The Premier League is difficult and when you lose the first goal; you have to play well. We did that. We passed the ball well, kept possession and that was key. Then we scored the two goals.
"It was important to win this game."
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