Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 4
But a fourth successive victory looked a long way off as the Black Cats dominated for an hour and fully deserved the 32nd-minute lead secured by Justin Hoyte's first ever career goal.
A shrewd tactical substitution by Magpies boss Glenn Roeder, however, turned the game on its head as Michael Chopra equalised just seconds after replacing Lee Clark, before Alan Shearer rammed home a penalty-kick a minute later and Charles N'Zogbia scored a fine individual goal.
Substitute Albert Luque took full advantage of a dreadful mix-up in the home defence in the 87th minute to give Newcastle a flattering margin of victory and leave Sunderland still searching for that elusive first home win of the season.
Steve Caldwell returned to the Sunderland defence to skipper the side against his former club in place of Gary Breen, and Tommy Miller was preferred to Grant Leadbitter in midfield with Julio Arca, recovered from a hamstring injury, on the bench.
The Magpies were without injured pair Lee Bowyer and Shola Ameobi, so Amady Faye and Lee Clark returned to the starting line-up.
Newcastle opened brightly with both full-backs, Stephen Carr and Celestine Babayaro, trying their luck without success from long range, but Sunderland soon took command by forcing a series of corners.
Kelvin Davis, however, had to move smartly to take a Nolberto Solano free-kick off the head of Titus Bramble as play swung from end-to-end in the blustery conditions.
Jon Stead broke through the middle and though he had colleagues in support, chose to go it alone and shoot wide from a favourable position.
Caldwell then got up well to a Liam Lawrence corner but his close-range header was deflected behind for another flag kick.
Dean Whitehead was just off target from a quickly taken free-kick but the home side were not to be denied and deservedly went ahead in the 32nd minute with a well-worked goal.
Hoyte started the move by finding Stead who cleverly beat Babayaro and found Whitehead, who left Hoyte, who had continued his run into the penalty area, to slide the ball home from close range.
The Black Cats went close to increasing their lead 10 minutes later when a well-struck drive from Lawrence struck Bramble and deflected out of the reach of Shay Given, only for the ball to go agonisingly wide of the post.
United responded with a weak free-kick from Solano, while Lawrence was just too high with another fierce drive, before Sunderland went in ahead at the break.
Stead missed a great chance to increase the lead straight after the re-start, losing possession after working his way into the penalty box.
Then suddenly the game changed completely after the introduction of Chopra for Clark.
Within a minute the substitute took full advantage of Davis and Caldwell failing to deal with Bramble's long free-kick and tapped the ball home from close range.
A minute later goal hero Hoyte turned villain when he brought down N'Zogbia and Shearer blasted home the penalty in customary fashion.
Z'Nogbia then danced his way through the Black Cats defence to score a third with a left-foot effort, and though Chris Brown, Lawrence and substitute Arca came close to reducing the deficit, the art of finishing was left to the visitors,
Caldwell and Danny Collins were guilty of dreadful defending to let in substitute Luque, on for the injured Shearer, to leave home fans completely demoralised after such a promising first hour.