Two debut strikes from Clayton Donaldson earned the Blades a first away victory of the season.
The Yorkshireman scored in both halves and few can deny Chris Wilder's side deserved the three points.
The striker, signed on transfer deadline day from Birmingham City, replaced the injured Lavery in the only change from the pre-international break win over Derby.
Honeyman whipped in two free-kicks in the opening 15 minutes but United started well at the Stadium of Light. Freeman shot over from 25 yards after Fleck won possession before the Blades scored a first away goal of the season.
Just after the 20-minute mark United broke from a Sunderland attack and thanks to neat control and a pass from Sharp, DONALDSON cut inside Wilson before beating goalkeeper Ruiter at his near post.
The goal quietened the majority of the stadium, the exception being the Unitedites high in the ground. Grabban fired over from distance but the Blades went close to a second on 31 minutes when Duffy's deft cross was met by Donaldson's head but this time Ruiter tipped over.
United remained on top for the remainder of the half but the final chance saw Vaughan's side volley fly wide from Grabban's cross.
The Blades continued the impressive first half in the early stages of the second period as Freeman and Stevens put the home side under pressure from wide areas. Opportunities around the box, though, were rare.
Sunderland's appeals for a penalty following Freeman's tackle on Williams were waved away and Wilder made a double change with Lundstram and Brooks taking over from Duffy and Sharp.
Brooks was lively and a major force in United doubling the lead on 77 minutes. The young midfielder carefully threaded a pass through the Sunderland defence for DONALDSON to run on to and he doubled his tally with an impressive left-footed effort, curling around Ruiter's right hand.
Donaldson celebrated before pulling up injured and he was replaced by Evans before the game restarted.
The Sunderland fans were showing their displeasure whilst the United supporters enjoyed the day. In the final ten minutes the Blades continued to be the dominant force and went close again on 86 minutes. Stevens and Brooks were both involved before an Evans shot was deflected and clipped the top of the crossbar.
Five minutes of added time was not welcomed by either side but Sunderland were given a glimmer of hope following a Lundstram foul. McManaman whipped in a free-kick from the right and RODWELL's glancing header beat Blackman.
Sunderland showed a little urgency late on but the Blades comfortably held on to secure the victory.
Sunderland: Ruiter, Williams, Rodwell, Vaughan (McManaman 60), Grabban, Galloway, Ndong, Browning, Kone (O'Shea 45), Honeyman (Gooch 74), Wilson.
Unused: Steele, Jones, Matthews, Gibson.
Blades: Blackman, Stevens, Fleck, O'Connell, Basham, Sharp (Brooks 68), Donaldson (Evans 80), Wright, Coutts, Freeman, Duffy (Lundstram 68).
Unused: Baldock, Carter-Vickers, Lafferty, Eastwood.