Premier League - Newcastle hold Spurs to remain unbeaten
Rafael van der Vaart's penalty had Spurs 1-0 up at the break, but Demba Ba struck soon after half-time.
Newcastle were assured of finishing the weekend fourth in the table whatever the result, while a single point was not enough to see Spurs leapfrog Liverpool and move into fifth place.
Despite Newcastle going into this match yet to suffer defeat, manager Alan Pardew insisted that this match against a Tottenham side going for their fifth straight league win would be the first true test of just how much progress his team had made.
With striker Emmanuel Adebayor tightly marked by Fabricio Coloccini at one end and Ledley King marshalling the Spurs defence well at the other, the first half largely failed to provide the exciting fare so often served in this fixture.
Even when King was replaced by Bassong after half an hour due to injury, there was little to separate the two sides.
That changed five minutes from time when Jake Livermore's pressing high up the pitch saw the ball run to Adebayor, who darted into the area and was tripped by Steven Taylor. Van der Vaart send goalkeeper Tim Krul the wrong way from 12 yards to score his third league goal of the season, all of them the openers in Tottenham games.
Newcastle responded well and just three minutes into the second half Jonas Gutierrez powered down the left past Luka Modric and Kyle Walker and chipped a cross into the area. The unmarked Ba's effort was initially blocked by Brad Friedel, but the American keeper's momentum took both him and the ball over the line to see Ba register his fifth goal in as many league games for his new club.
That leveller saw the match spark fully into life. Adebayor and Gabriel Obertan both had shots across goal fly wide before Modric nipped past Ryan Taylor on the touchline before teeing up Van der Vaart, whose effort was tame and right at Krul.
Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp brought Defoe on midway through the half, and just four minutes later the England striker collected Scott Parker's pass on the edge of the box, turned Ryan Taylor and fired a clinical low finish home for his third league goal of the campaign.
Pardew made a double attacking switch, replacing Ba and Leon best with Hatem Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi. After the impressive Chieck Tiote and Ryan Taylor had both forced saves from Friedel, it was Ameobi who broke the deadlock.
The veteran Newcastle forward ran on to Yohan Cabaye's deft pass through and struck a crisp finish across Friedel and inside the far post.
The Magpies could even have won the match when a free-kick caused havoc inside the Tottenham area, but Coloccini rushed his shot on the turn and fired wide from close range.
If Pardew wanted to use this match as a measure of his side's true worth, then he should feel satisfied that his team's current position in the table is not a false one.