Goals from Ramires and Willian earned the champions a share of the spoils at St James’s Park on Saturday after it appeared Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum had secured the points for Newcastle.
Chelsea entered the game on the back of off-field issues, with club doctor Eva Carneiro’s controversial departure coming in a week when Diego Costa was retrospectively given a three-match ban for violent conduct in last Saturday’s win over Arsenal.
And Jose Mourinho’s issues grew as Newcastle enjoyed the better of the first half, deservedly heading to the break ahead thanks to Perez’s fine strike.
Chelsea responded impressively after half-time, only to be hit by a sucker punch when Wijnaldum nodded home a second.
But the visitors showed their resolve thereafter, with Ramires’ wonder strike and Willian’s fortuitous goal ensuring they left the north-east with a point.
McClaren opted to immediately recall striker Aleksandar Mitrovic following a three-game ban, with Chelsea starting Loic Remy in place of the suspended Costa.
The latter offered the first threat, Remy poking just wide after being found by Branislav Ivanovic.
Newcastle then came into the game, Mitrovic heading just wide from Wijnaldum’s cross.
That set the tone for a good spell as Moussa Sissoko hammered narrowly wide from 20 yards.
The hosts continued to look dangerous, with Chelsea thankful for two good saves from Asmir Begovic in quick succession.
He first denied Perez from close range, before repeating the trick after Daryl Janmaat stretched to fire at goal.
Chelsea threatened an opener themselves soon after, Cesc Fabregas unleashing a powerful 25-yard strike that forced a fine stop from Tim Krul.
And Krul’s intervention looked all the more important when Newcastle took a deserved 42nd-minute lead through Perez.
The forward controlled a Vurnon Anita cross after Kurt Zouma inexplicably let the ball drop before unleashing a fizzing volley which flew in off the post.
Chelsea produced the expected riposte after the interval and almost levelled when Remy headed Oscar’s cross just wide.
But they failed to make the most of their dominance and Newcastle capitalised.
Perez sent in a threatening corner and Wijnaldum, profiting from being completely unmarked, glanced a header into the bottom corner.
Chelsea were given a route back into the game thanks to a stunning Ramires goal, the Brazilian’s rasping 25-yard drive flying into the top corner with 14 minutes to go.
They should have equalised in the 83rd minute as Fabregas’ stunning long ball found Pedro, who hit over when one-on-one with Krul.
An equaliser came three minutes later, however, as Willian’s free-kick evaded everybody and flew into the net.