Substitute keeper Lee Camp ensured 10-man Norwich left Sunderland with a 1-1 draw on a day when the Canaries' luck deserted them.
Chris Hughton's men were leading 1-0 at the Stadium of Light through Wes Hoolahan's close-range header when keeper Mark Bunn was dismissed for handling outside his area, and their fortunes took a further turn for the worse five minutes before the break when defender Sebastien Bassong conceded a penalty.
Craig Gardner levelled from the spot and then forced a vital 59th-minute save from Camp as the Black Cats strove in vain for the goal they needed to secure a first win in seven Barclays Premier League games.
The visitors struck first when Kei Kamara was allowed to meet Robert Snodgrass' right-wing corner - the last of three in quick succession - with a firm header which was turned past keeper Simon Mignolet on the line by Hoolahan.
The reaction inside the Stadium of Light was one of intense frustration, but the home side were handed a lifeline within three minutes.
Danny Graham chased down a ball over the top and got to it marginally before the advancing Bunn, who blocked with his arm as he raced from his area. Referee Chris Foy had little option but to produce a red card, much to the keeper's fury, and he made little secret of his feelings as he reluctantly left the pitch.
Norwich's fortunes were to take a further turn for the worse five minutes before the break when Bassong handled as he attempted to control John O'Shea's pass on his chest and Gardner stepped up to smash the resulting penalty past replacement keeper Camp.
The newcomer made a fine diving save to keep out Adam Johnson's 42nd-minute piledriver with Graham scuffing the rebound across the face of goal, and was relieved to see Danny Rose's injury-time effort clip the outside of the post and run to safety.
Gardner was revelling in the extra space afforded to him by Norwich's relative lack of personnel and he repeatedly turned up in advanced positions down the right, prompting Camp to make a good fingertip save with a 59th-minute thunderbolt.
Camp distinguished himself once again to claim Johnson's strike from distance two minutes later, and his side were appealing in vain for a penalty with 20 minutes remaining when Russell Martin's cross hit Rose's arm, in referee Foy's opinion, inches outside the box.