Sunderland 0 Chelsea 1
The Wearsiders more than matched the Blues in terms of effort and had they taken their chances would have deservedly got something from the encounter.
Chelsea also had opportunities to add to their tally but they too went begging and as the game wore on Avram Grant's side began to look shaky as Sunderland threatened to nick a point.
In fact the hosts, who went behind's to Terry's first goal in 19 months, could have opened the scoring.
The home crowd were up in arms when they thought referee Mike Dean had robbed them of a penalty on six minutes. Kenwyne Jones got up to flick on a long ball out of defence and Irishman Roy O'Donovan looked to have got goal side of Terry.
The England and Chelsea star grabbed the Sunderland forward's arm before dragging him to the ground.
Replays showed the incident occurred just outside the box but, to make matters worse for the Wearsiders, Dean then failed to even award a free-kick as he waved play on.
Three minutes later Terry got a telling touch at the other end of the field. Frank Lampard curled in a corner and Terry lost marker Jones to head home at the near post.
After that Chelsea were in the ascendancy and looked to move into cruise control but Roy Keane's men weren't about to do down without a fight.
The Blues allowed their hosts both time and space as the Wearsiders edged their way back into the game.
However, once again, they failed to convert possession into points as chances went begging.
Carlos Edwards, returning from a long-term injury, should have done better when Andy Reid found him in the 18-yard area on 23 minutes. The angle was tight but the winger should have at least hit the target, but instead he managed to fire high and wide into the crowd.
Three minutes later Carlo Cudicini pulled off the save of the match to deny Reid whose effort was more than worthy of levelling the scores.
Reid curled a free-kick from just outside the 18-yard area which looked a goal all the way until the Italian stopper made a superb one-handed save.
With the half drawing to a close both O'Donovan and Jones failed to find the net with half-chances while Joe Cole and Salomon Kalou also fired wide when in good positions.
After the break Chelsea started the brighter of the two teams as Sunderland failed to maintain their tempo from the dying minutes of the first half. But once again the Blues relaxed as the Black Cats came back at them.
Chelsea were still creating chances with Lampard and Kalou going close while Didier Drogba and Joe Cole also rued misses.
However, luckily for them the Wearsiders proved just as wasteful, Jones heading over twice and Danny Collins heading wide as the game drew to a close.
Dean Whitehead almost rescued a point in the dying minutes but his effort drifted just wide of Cudicini's post.
Chelsea will no doubt see the result as a job well done, but for Sunderland it must be looked upon as a missed opportunity to grab what could be a vital point.