It looked as if the Jets were on couurse for a first win of the season until the champion hit back to grab a point at Hunter Stadium in front of a crowd of 13,744.
Second halfs goals from defender Scott Neville and a horror own goal from Trent Sainsbury - with Mariners keeper Justin Pasfield most at fault - put Newcastle on top.
Marcos Flores replied from the spot and then substitute Mile Sterjovski struck a 79th minute equaliser in a dramatic second 45 minutes.
After a nervous start, Newcastle, which was chasing its first goal of the season after three barren rounds, began to get a grip on the match and made it hard for the Mariners - and playmaker Flores - to get into their stride.
Tenacious in the tackle and quick to close down, the home side was in a mission to get its season off the ground - after just two points from the opening three rounds.
There were few chances in a tight first half which saw defences largely on top but the game exploded after the break with two goals in five minutes undoing the visitor.
First full-back Scott Neville buried the Jets' first goal of the season from close range after Central Coast failed to clear a Ruben Zadkovich free-kick as both Nathan Burns and Connor Chapman lined up efforts.
Finally, the ball broke to Neville off a rebound from keeper Justin Pasfield and he made no mistake.
It got even worse for Graham Arnold's defending champion five minutes later when Pasfield gifted the Jets a second in a moment which will haunt him for the rest of the season.
He took his eye off Sainsbury's backpass, letting the ball role under his foot - and by the time he had got back to clear it had crossed the line.
It looked like Pasfied's gaffe had left Central Coast for dead but the game turned again in the 62nd minute when a handball from Connor Chapman allowed Arnold's team back into the match.
But there was added drama to the spot-kick with referee Chris Griffiths-Jones making Flores take it twice after encroachment the first time around. But the result was the same as the Argentine went to the opposite corner to haul the Mariners back into the contest.
At the other end, Pasfield redeemed himself with a flying tip-over from Zadkovich's speculative cross-shot from the right.
But super sub Sterjovski pounced to bury the ball after a Flores volley had bounced off the bar into his path.
Jets coach Gary van Egmond was disappointed his side gave up a two-goal lead but was pleased with the commitment of his players, who will welcome back marquee striker Emile Heskey for next weekend's game at Adelaide United.
Heskey was slated to return from a knee injury for his first game this season but was given another week to recover.
"We were pretty comfortable there and then we gave them two preventable goals, similar to the Sydney game," Van Egmond said.
"The issue is obviously individual mistakes but I'm very proud of the boys.
"I thought they really fought hard for the club and the supporters, and each other. And if they continue to do that, we'll win more than we lose."
When asked if the goals might ease pressure on the side from frustrated supporters, Van Egmond said: "We've obviously been highlighted quite a bit but it's always nice to get on the scoresheet, and they even scored for us as well so that was very considerate of them."
Mariners coach Graham Arnold was happy with a point.
"I'm proud of the boys for the character they showed," Arnold said.
"That's two away games in a row we've been two goals down and we've come back well.
"We gifted them some goals. We gave them two early Christmas presents but we showed the character to come back."
Arnold was also impressed with the comeback of Pasfield after his howler to give the Jets their second goal.
"He's not happy with himself," he said of the keeper.
"But the worst thing is [Trent] Sainsbury gets an own goal for it, doesn't he? Not the keeper," he laughed.
"But I said to him, people make mistakes. If you are waiting here for me to slam him, I'm not going to do it.
"I always look to see how people respond when they make mistakes and he responded by making a great save off a free kick."
Arnold will welcome back 2012-2013 Golden Boot Daniel McBreen, who returned from a loan stint in China early Saturday morning, for next Sunday's home game against Brisbane Roar.