Glenn Loovens and Denver Hume were both taken off in the first half, with Lynden Gooch also in severe discomfort towards the end of the game.
Over 5,000 travelling fans had been sent into delirium early in the second half when Lee Cattermole scored his third league goal of the season, but the hosts were ultimately well worthy of their point.
In the end they could have won it, with only a desperate Jack Baldwin clearance sparing Sunderland's blushes.
That the first half ended with eight minutes of stoppage time reflected a game that been stop-start, neither side able to build any significant momentum.
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The Black Cats were not helped by an early injury to Loovens, with Coventry defender Junior Brown following him off the pitch soon after with a clash of heads.
With referee Michael Salisbury regularly blowing the whistle for niggling fouls, the tempo was disappointing.
Despite starting sluggishly, Sunderland did come close to forging an opener when Chris Maguire was fouled as he made a run past the Coventry defence. He got up and curled the free-kick onto the post, with George Honeyman unable to react quick enough, turning the follow-up over the bar.
Coventry did offer some threat down the flanks but Jon McLaughlin was rarely tested significantly.
Sunderland suffered a further blow when Denver Hume was taken off injured, replaced by Bryan Oviedo.
The visitors were struggling to retain the ball and build significant pressure, though Tom Flanagan did force a save from Lee Burge when he headed Honeyman's corner towards goal at the back post.
Their second half response, however, was excellent.
Within minutes they were ahead. Adam Matthews, who replaced Loovens in the first half, advanced down the right and cut a low cross across goal. Josh Maja stepped over the ball and Cattermole was free to convert at the back post.
Coventry responded strongly and the Black Cats were fortunate that Conor Chaplin could only fire wide when he ran into the box.
The hosts continued to make all the running and Sunderland were indebted to Jon McLaughlin for two excellent saves on the hour.
Jonson Clarke-Harris was the first to test him from range, and he then had to race off his line to make a smart save with his feet from Luke Thomas.
The pressure quickly told as Dujon Sterling got to the byline, Clarke-Harris this time converting an easy finish.
Bryan Oviedo almost got them straight back ahead with a low drive from the edge of the box, but an increasingly difficult second half got even worse when Gooch, influential in that move, pulled up with a muscle injury. The forward could barely move but with Sunderland using all three subs, he was moved infield.
The Black Cats dealt with that blow well initially, with Honeyman forcing a fine save from Burge. Max Power saw an effort deflected wide soon after.
Minutes from the end, they were given an extraordinary let-off.
Flanagan, the deepest defender, missed a routine long ball and allowed Chaplin to race through on goal. McLaughlin blocked well but the ball bobbled towards goal. Jack Baldwin just got back in time to clear the danger.
Coventry continued to apply the pressure but Sunderland were able to hold out for the point.
Coventry City XI: Burge; Sterling, Hyam, Bayliss, Brown (Davies, 17) ; Doyle, Willis; Shipley, Chaplin, Thomas (Jones, 78); Clarke-Harris. Not used: O'Brien, Kelly, Jones, Ogogo, Bakayoko, Andreu
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; Flanagan, Loovens (Matthews, 4), Baldwin, Hume (Oviedo, 37); McGeouch (Power, 66), Cattermole, Honeyman; Maguire, Maja. Not used: Ruiter, Ozturk, Sinclair, McGeady
Bookings: Hyam, 8 Cattermole, 30