The Royals are still rooted deep in the relegation zone but they were the only one of the bottom three teams to get any kind of a result.
Adam Le Fondre saw a late volley headed over the bar and the Reading striker was also booked for handling the ball Maradona-style into the net.
Newcastle were awarded a handball goal at the Madejski Stadium earlier in the season - but the same luck was not shining on Reading.
A point was a small step, given Reading are still six points from safety.
But stopping the rot was vital for McDermott's men, who had come so close to earning a draw against Manchester City before Christmas.
"We need to find a way to get results and we got a result," McDermott said.
"We are disappointed they didn't give us the handball goal because they normally give them here. Adam would have headed it but he said he got pulled back.
"We were much more resilient, it is important to move on with a point and we can look forward with confidence to West Ham.
"We have got a point and a clean sheet and we are off the bottom of the table."