Jack Ross has praised his Sunderland players for showing trust and faith in their style of play after coming from behind at Spotland.
Rochdale took the lead through Dale skipper Ian Henderson in the 28th minute, Sunderland's confidence clearly hit and Ross was pleased to get the players in at half-time.
Second half goals from Charlie Wyke and an 89th minute winner from skipper George Honeyman, who had come on for hamstring-victim Lynden Gooch, sealed a dramatic win.
Victory pulled Sunderland level with Barnsley in second on 79 points, the Black Cats with two games in hand.
A delighted Ross said: “There has been different challenges all season, this was another one, to come from a goal behind.
“On the back of the week we have had, to keep pushing, it takes guts and hunger.
“It is a happy dressing room, they are in a good place and trusting what they do.
“It was much about character and desire, it was pleasing they kept faith second half and didn’t panic and got their rewards.”
Ross said: “For us, we had a young team on the pitch today, we were stretched a bit squad wise.
“Prior to their goal I though we were good, creating good opportunities.
“The goal rocked us a bit, as it does.
“We got a little bit sloppy, clearances and decision making.
“Half-time was good, it gave us the opportunity to remind them what we wanted them to do in the game.
“They have to do it on the pitch though, they kept playing the way we wanted to, how we would get joy from the game.
“The winning goal comes from us doing that. Testament to their desire and character.”
Mental strength could prove key in the battle for automatic promotion, with Sunderland well placed heading into the final seven games of the campaign.
Sunderland host Burton Albion on Tuesday at the Stadium of Light.
Ross added: “We understand it can change very quickly. We have lived with a scrutiny of were we are after every league game, either the first or the last game. We are accustomed to it.
“We don’t get too caught up in it.
“Post-cup final, we knew what lay ahead and what he had to try and do and we have met two of those challenges already, we have further ones to come, beginning Tuesday.
“The players feel good about themselves, that hunger to achieve success was strengthened by what happened at Wembley.
“They have come through a tough test.”