Taylor, making his first start in a Wear-Tyne derby, arrowed a perfect ball into the top corner after Lee Cattermole had felled Jonas Guttierez, before Phil Bardsley saw red for a second bookable offence after a tackle on Fabricio Coloccini in a fiery second half.
Newcastle tasted victory at the Stadium of Light in 2005-6 when they won 4-1 at already-relegated Sunderland, but this time around, the hosts were installed as favourites after a summer spending spree.
However, form should never count for anything in a North-East derby and it is the Magpies who have for the time being bragging rights.
Both teams should have arguably been down to ten men at the interval, but it was Newcastle who would have felt the most aggrieved at the halfway point. After a period of pressure from the hosts, Shola Ameobi got on the end of a Yohan Cabaye cross, rose above Anton Ferdinand and headed towards goal, where the ball came off Seb Larsson's leg and then hand before bouncing over the byeline.
Howard Webb consulted with his linesman before awarding a corner, but television replays clearly showed contact from Larsson which, on any other occasion, would have resulted in a penalty and a red card.
Cabaye was involved in a flashpoint of his own on 24 minutes, when he clattered into Bardsley who was off the pitch at the time. It was an unecessarily forceful challenge which again could have seen a red card brandished on another occasion.
Chances-wise, Sunderland went in at half time in the ascendancy. Stephane Sessegnon had troubled the Magpies defence with his pace and trickery, and enjoyed three clear cut chances two with the ball at his feet and one when he attacked an Ahmed Elmohamady cross.
At the other end, Cabaye saw a deflected shot tipped over the bar by Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, while Shola Ameobi's diving header on 41 minutes was rightly flagged offside another let off for Sunderland, for whom Wes Brown had slipped in the build-up to the chance.
On the whistle, Asamoah Gyan, who had earlier gone close with a half-volley on 26 minutes, curled a left-footed shot just over Krul's crossbar.
A sleepy start to the second half was brought to life with two moments involving Gutierrez. The Argentinian saw a tricky shot palmed out by Mignolet on the hour mark, then a minute later was fouled by Cattermole on the edge of the box.
While Cabaye had been on set-piece duty up to then, Taylor stepped up and curled an unstoppable shot past Mignolet.
A needless tackle on Gutierrez five minutes later brought a yellow card for Cattermole and handbags between the two sides. Luckily for Sunderland, Taylor's free-kick this time floated over Mignolet's crossbar.
Substitute Craig Gardner's 80th minute header was gathered well by Krul, as Newcastle's rearguard resisted Sunderland's pressure.
Then came the game's only dismissal. While Larsson's or Cabaye's indiscretions could and should have brought sendings off, Bardsley's albeit full-blooded challenge on Coloccini did not on first viewing appear to warrant a second yellow.
Gyan looked to have been barged down by Coloccini in stoppage time, but Webb waved play on and Newcastle held on for the win.
SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): Mignolet; Bardsley, Brown, Ferdinand, Richardson (Gardner 71); Elmohamady (Ji 71), Cattermole, Colback, Larsson (Wickham 82); Sessegnon, Gyan. Subs not used: Westwood (gk), Vaughan, Bramble, Laing, .
NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-2-3-1): Krul; Simpson, S.Taylor, Coloccini, R.Taylor; Cabaye (Williamson 85), Tiote; Barton, Gutierrez, Obertan (Gosling 86); Ameobi. Subs (not used): Harper, Best, Ba, Lovenkrands, Marveaux.
Referee: Howard Webb (Rotherham)