Norwich City boss Alex Neil was left deeply frustrated after watching Sunderland put three past his side.
But the Canaries boss said the 'big decisions' didn't go there way at Carrow Road.
The breakthrough arrived four minutes before half-time when Andre Wisdom chopped down Fabio Borini in the area, allowing the Italian to tuck away the spot-kick.
Sunderland grabbed the second in the 53rd minute when Borini pinged a perfect low ball across goal and top scorer Jermain Defoe arrived at the far post to tuck away his 16th goal of the season.
Neil felt Sebastien Bassong had been fouled in the build-up, however, by Sunderland's Jan Kirchhoff and also had his doubts about the penalty.
"I think you could argue the big decisions didn't go in our favour," he said.
The visitors wrapped up victory in stoppage time when sub Sebastian Larsson played in substitute Duncan Watmore to finish from a tight angle.
"I've said to the players if we are going to do it, then we are going to have to do it the hard way," added Neil.
"We've got four games remaining and we need to win at least two.
"But you have to bear in mind the other teams are still chasing us. Sunderland have got to win that game in hand to make it count.
"However, if we don't win games between now and the end of the season then it won't be enough."
Meanwhile, Norwich captain Gary insists the relegation battle is far from over.
Reflecting on the heavy defeat, he said: "It's not good losing to a relegation rival on our own patch.
"We had the chance to take a big step towards safety but it wasn't to be. Now we have four big games coming up and we need to do it the hard way.
"Things went against us, as they do sometimes, and unfortunately for us that came in a massive game.
"There were a couple of errors we've cut out recently which crept back in to cost us.
"People can believe what they want to. We're an honest group and will give everything we can over the next four games."
The 32-year-old added: "We're still in front; the other teams need points to catch us and their games aren't easy.
"It's a terrible result for us. We've got two weeks to dust ourselves off now before we go again."