Two of Harry Redknapp's January signings struck in the second half to seal the bottom side's first back-to-back victories of the season and boost their slim hopes of survival
A bright start from the hosts was seemly counteracted by an early strike from Steven Fletcher but Loic Remy coolly dispatched the equaliser 10 minutes later before brilliant second-half volleys from Townsend and Jenas secured the points for the home side.
Having targeted five more wins before the game, Redknapp sacrificed Adel Taarabt for the second week in a row as Junior Hoilett started on the left, with Loic Remy and Bobby Zamora pairing up in attack. Julio Cesar could not regain fitness in time, however, and was replaced by Rob Green.
It was the home side and Hoilett in particular who started most dynamically. The 22-year-old showed promise early on as he almost played Zamora in before nearly opening the scoring himself after cutting inside and curling a powerful strike just wide.
Yet it was Sunderland – and who else but top scorer Fletcher – who made the early breakthrough on 20 minutes. An Alfred N’Diaye-led counterattack ended with Adam Johnson firing in a shot from close range and the Scotland striker managed to redirect the ball into the back of the net for his 11th goal of the season.
But the hosts retaliated on the half-hour mark through a clinical strike of their own. A blocked shot from Townsend fell straight into the path of Remy, who made no mistake inside the area to score his third goal in four league starts.
And the 26-year-old almost doubled his tally with a smart header three minutes later before fluffing a great opportunity to volley shortly after. Simon Mignolet was on guard to deny the initial header but had the Frenchman connected properly the second time around, there would have been very little the Belgian keeper could have done.
Nevertheless, the hosts were now firmly on top and headed into the break with real hope of achieving only their fourth Premier League win of the season.
On 56 minutes, Martin O’Neill brought Danny Rose on for Graham in a seemingly defensive move. With Sunderland not having won in their last five, the Northern Irishman appeared content to leave Loftus Road with a point.
But there seemed an inevitability about QPR taking all three points as set-piece after set-piece was whipped into the box and soon, the hosts took the lead – and in some style.
A loose ball found its way towards Townsend roughly 30 yards from goal and the 21-year-old took a touch with his chest before thumping a beautifully struck left-foot volley straight into the top corner.
And minutes later, another January signing confirmed victory as substitute Jenas thumped a right-footed volley home. Redknapp's magic had worked once again.