David Moyes' men held out for a point against title challenging opposition buoyed by the returning Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong who both added much needed muscle to the Sunderland team.
Victor Wanyama wasted Spurs' best chance as the Black Cats' high-flying visitors were largely flat against determined opposition.
The draw lifts Sunderland to 19th and ends a run of three straight defeats. Worryingly results elsewhere leave the club five points from safety. Despite drawing Tottenham moved up to second.
Sunderland held Tottenham in the first frame not allowing the title challengers to settle, playing direct aggressive football.
A series of fouls throughout the first half from both teams, lead a scrappy intense 45 minutes which favoured the home side.
Lacking their usual swagger and tempo, Spurs' best chance all half came after just five minutes, when a lazy Jason Denayer clearance was intercepted by Harry Kane. The England international's low cross was deflected behind for a corner by the returning Kone who narrowly avoided conceding at his near post.
Jermain Defoe who was an effective outlet throughout the first half for the Mackems was denied when Toby Alderweireld blocked his goal bound effort. Sunderland's talisman had evaded Victor Wanyama but was stopped by the Belgain whilst trying to cut across for a trademark bottom corner snap shot.
Defoe was effective again in isolation against Alderweireld holding off one of the Premier League's elite defenders to tee up Fabio Borini. The former Liverpool man's heavy touch took him away from goal, ruining his angle.
Just one minute later Borini wasted an even better chance. Racing onto a second ball, the Italian was unmarked one on one with Michel Vorm, after a fluky deflection fell perfectly to him off Kyle Walker. Struggling for form and confidence he side-footed tamely into the Dutchman's hands.
Considering the contrasting form of both outfits it was surprising that Mauricio Pochettino's men never built sustained early momentum. Their best spell of passing came on 25 minutes and ended when Victor Wanyama blasted uncontested from long range, Vito Mannone comfortably parried behind diving to his right.
As Moyes' men grew in confidence so did space for their North London visitors. The Black Cats were let off when Son Heung Min failed to control Alderweireld's delicate through ball. The former Bayer Leverkussen forward had ran off Jason Denayer and was through on goal with a better first touch.
The worst moment of the half for Sunderland was Jack Rodwell's yellow card. The 25 year old deliberately fouled Mousa Dembele with such aggression that referee Lee Mason could have drawn a red card instead of yellow. The wild foul could have undone Sunderland's hard work and improved efforts early on.
Instantly in the second half Tottenham played with greater tempo and conviction, finally playing with the quality to beat Sunderland's press. For all their corners and territorial dominance the title chasers were held to half chances and left Mannone relatively untroubled. The Italian easily smothered a Christian Eriksen free kick which was the North London sides' best effort early in the second half.
Most of Tottenham's chances to break the deadlock came when Sunderland could only half clear crosses and probing Spurs through balls. Such an opening was narrowly deflected over when Javier Manquillo deflected a Walker blast over the crossbar.
Wanyama was wasteful unmarked as Spurs pressure began to tell, heading over at the back post. There were no Sunderland players within five yards of the Kenyan who had plenty of time to measure his header after Son picked him out.
Sunderland were pinned back constantly and couldn't escape their own half for any significant amount of time. Sebastian Larsson was forced to quell danger when he volleyed away after Mannone spilled a Kane cross, six yards out.
Red hot Dele Alli could have been the hero but Billy Jones just managed to get a toe to his half volley that was ferociously heading towards the far corner of the Wearside goal-mouth.
Despite palpable nerves surrounding the Stadium of Light there was no grand finale from the visitors. Ben Davies shot high and wide finishing a Spurs break just minutes from time. Eric Dier glanced a near post header over in injury time, that Mannone likely had covered anyway.
Sunderland must now improve on a more resilient performance and try find quality to match the intensity produced tonight going forward. Whether this was a decent performance in isolation or the start of another late Wearside run remains to be seen.