Former Manchester United defender John O’Shea rescued a point for Paolo di Canio’s side, already a man down after Craig Gardner was sent off, when he struck from close range in the 63rd minute following a corner.
Jon Walters gave Stoke a ninth minute lead, reacting first to fire home after his header from Charlie Adam’s cross was blocked.
Then, for the second match in a row, Sunderland found themselves down to 10 men after Gardner was shown a straight red card by referee Lee Mason for an over the ball one-footed challenge on Adam.
Sunderland next play Southampton, with the south coast side themselves not out of drop danger on 39 points, with di Canio glad he was able to inspire his team at half-time.
“What can you say at half-time? I tried to motivate my players and told them that we were playing at home.
“If you don’t concede a second goal you can stay in the game.
“The players were amazing to react in the way they did.
"This point in my opinion will be crucial at the end of the season. I will not cry or make an excuse.
"We have players missing and I will only focus on those players I can select.”