The red cards will grab the attention, but this derby also showed how little there is between the two sides at the moment.
Newcastle had a brilliant start to the season, but now they seem to be losing a little steam.
Sunderland, despite their 4-0 defeat last weekend, have been rejuvenated under Martin O'Neill.
I thought Newcastle might edge this one, but it was Sunderland who came closer to winning the game.
The match was marred by the type of excessive physicality that both draws people to the Premier League as well as show its technical limitations.
That a player like Lee Cattermole can flourish in the Premier League shows that too many league games are still decided by strength and not skill.
Sunderland will be ruing Shola Ameobi's late equalizer, but it could have been even worse for the Black Cats had Demba Ba not missed his penalty.
Newcastle will be unhappy that they did not manage to win the game, given that Sunderland played with only 10 men for around 30 minutes. The Magpies will be especially unhappy, as they have a tough away game at Arsenal next Monday.
As it stands, Newcastle should still finish above Sunderland, especially because one of the latter's best players this season, Stephane Sessegnon, will now be suspended.
But Newcastle's inability to win this game, and their overall form in recent weeks, is troubling.
Could Sunderland still finish above them? Probably not. But on today's showing, it's certainly not an impossibility.