David Connolly set Sunderland on their way to a fourth straight home win that piled on the misery for dismal Leeds.
Sunderland dominated but were largely restricted to long-range efforts until Connolly scored from a narrow angle after being released by Dwight Yorke.
Assistant boss Gus Poyet showed Leeds' frustrations when he was sent to the stand for throwing a ball on the field.
Grant Leadbitter added to their worries with a drilled second that delighted the majority of the 40,116 fans.
Sunderland manager Roy Keane on bouncing back after losing to Crystal Palace:
"It was a good performance and a good reaction from the players to the defeat a couple of days ago.
"It would have been nice if we'd scored a few more goals but we thoroughly deserved the victory.
"We had to get a win because we have to keep up with that chasing pack. I wasn't concerned one bit."
Leeds manager Dennis Wise on the transfer window:
"Hopefully I can bring a couple of new faces in and they will give us a lift which is what we need.
"We're working hard and we're trying to tie a few things up.
"There are 21 games to go and eight wins or seven wins can get you out of it. You've got to worry if there are 12 games to go and you're struggling."
Sunderland: Ward, Whitehead, Varga, Caldwell, Nyatanga (Collins 58), Stephen Elliott (Wallace 58), Leadbitter, Yorke, Miller, Murphy (Hysen 90), Connolly.
Subs Not Used: Fulop, Nosworthy.
Goals: Connolly 65, Leadbitter 81.
Leeds: Warner, Richardson, Heath, Ehiogu (Kilgallon 72), Foxe, Lewis, Douglas, Derry (Healy 72), Westlake, Kandol, Beckford (Moore 72).
Subs Not Used: Sullivan, Howson.
Ref: G Salisbury (Lancashire).