Ciaran Clark scored a late header as Newcastle came from 2-0 down to draw at home to struggling Bristol City.
City, who had lost 10 of their previous 13 games, took a shock lead when 37-year-old Aaron Wilbraham headed home.
David Cotterill made it 2-0 soon after, capitalising on a defensive error.
But Korey Smith’s own goal and Clark’s header extended Newcastle’s unbeaten run in the league to seven matches, although Brighton’s win in the late game knocked them off top spot.
The Magpies are now one point behind the Seagulls, who won 3-0 at home to Reading.
Bristol City were booed off the pitch following Wednesday’s home defeat by Fulham, a result that left them two points above the relegation zone.
But Johnson, who was publicly backed by owner Steve Lansdown on Friday, saw his side go 2-0 up inside the opening 21 minutes at St James’ Park.
However, once Smith had turned into his own net under heavy pressure from Jonjo Shelvey, the home side always looked likely to force an equaliser.
Ayoze Perez was denied by Aden Flint’s superb goal-saving challenge, before Christian Atsu dragged a shot just wide.
And Newcastle’s pressure was eventually rewarded when, with eight minutes remaining, Clark bundled in from close range to secure a point.
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez told BBC Newcastle:
“We didn’t start well and we made mistakes, but the reaction was really good.
“When you analyse the whole game I will take the positives.
“It was a pity that we didn’t win because I think we deserved something more, but at the same time we have to improve.”
Bristol City boss Lee Johnson:
“I’m very proud of the players because this is a very difficult place to come – a Premier League club in waiting. No doubt they will get promoted.
“We had four academy graduates playing in front of 52,000 people. I thought our energy and our work rate was top notch.
“It’s not ideal to concede two when you are 2-0 up, but I will take the positives after a very difficult week.
“That’s the marker now. Not the result, but the attitude and the willingness to work for the team.”