The Black Cats, taken charge by Paolo Di Canio for the first time, took a half-time lead when Cesar Azpilicueta diverted the ball into his own net before Matthew Kilgallon's similar mistake and Branislav Ivanovic completed a second-half turnaround.
|14/1||Chelsea are 14/1 with bet365 to beat Man City 2-0 in the FA Cup semi-final
"I was pleased with team after four games in eight days," Benitez told reporters at Stamford Bridge. "It was a very good reaction in the second half, and we were much more positive.
"With too many games in a short period it is important to keep the team winning, to keep the team ready. The negative thing is that we conceded a goal, the positive thing is we recovered and comeback."
With Tottenham and Everton drawing at White Hart Lane earlier on Sunday, Chelsea reclaimed third spot in the Premier League with the win over relegation-threatened Sunderland.
Benitez, however, is not getting carried away and believes the race for a place at Europe's top domestic table is far from decided.
He said: "Hopefully for us it won't but I think the race for the top four will go to the last day. Tottenham, Arsenal and even Everton are pushing."
It was not all positives for the west London outfit, though, with striker Demba Ba being withdrawn at half-time after a heavy tackle from Craig Gardner.
"He has a problem with his ankle," Benitez revealed. "We will have to see tomorrow. It was a heavy tackle, we will have to see."