Alan Pardew believes Sunderland set out to 'upset' Newcastle United after a feisty Tyne-Wear finished 1-1 at St James' Park.
Substitute Shola Ameobi scored a last-minute equaliser for the Magpies after Demba Ba had missed from the penalty spot inside the final 10 minutes.
Sunderland had earlier taken the lead midway through the first half thanks to Nicklas Bendtner's penalty, by which time there had already been six yellow cards.
Lee Cattermole was cautioned inside the opening minute for a foul on Cheick Tiote, and was then red-carded after the final whistle, while Sunderland team-mate Stephane Sessegnon was dismissed before the hour.
Newcastle had struggled during the opening 45 minutes and Pardew believes that his half-time team-talk changed the complexion of the game.
"In the first half Sunderland came here to upset us and Cattermole set the scene, it was ugly," said the Newcastle manager.
"Luckily we got to half-time and got into our players about calming down and playing the game.
"We put them under pressure and sometimes people crack. And when Sessegnon was sent off it was all us."
Pardew singled out Ameobi for particular praise after his late leveller, and he had also earned the Magpies the penalty after he was fouled by Fraizer Campbell.
He added "The goalscorer says everything about Newcastle United. He is a legend to me."