Ray Wilkins said Cardiff's retreat into "the suicide zone" allowed Sunderland to snatch an unlikely point on Saturday.
Goals from Jordon Mutch and Fraizer Campbell had put the home side in total control in their first game since the sacking of Malky Mackay, but they were undone by a late strike from Steven Fletcher and an equaliser from Jack Colback deep into stoppage time.
Wilkins said that Sunderland's fightback was thrilling for spectators and showed the spirit of Premier League football at its best, but felt Cardiff dropped too deep as they tried to protect their two-goal lead and will be frustrated to have thrown away what appeared to be a certain victory.
"Cardiff will be very saddened by the way they have let them back in the game because they were in total command," he told Saturday Night Football.
This is why this is the best game on the planet and the best league on the planet as well - because this can happen in the Premier League.
Quotes of the week
"This is why this is the best game on the planet and the best league on the planet as well - because this can happen in the Premier League. In other leagues in the world it doesn't happen, but we have excitement right the way through to the end.
"Fair credit to Sunderland, they had to roll their sleeves up late on in the game and get themselves back into it.
"Cardiff had so much of the game, but the mentality of players is very funny. All of a sudden they started dropping back, but it's not a safety zone, it's a suicide zone when you keep going back there because you allow the opposition to come onto you.
"If only they had played as they did in the first half - but it takes a bit of confidence and guts to get on the ball when things aren't quite going your way."
Sunderland missed the chance to climb out of the relegation zone and remain bottom of the table, but Wilkins says their manager Gus Poyet will be happy with the draw.
He said Sunderland deserved nothing for their general play, but paid tribute to their fighting spirit.
"Gus Poyet got out of jail this afternoon," Wilkins added.
"They did put in a massive effort and if you deserve a point for massive effort then, yes, they deserve a point but I thought in the first half they were totally outplayed and even for large periods of the second half as well.
"It was the last knockings of the match where they really came into it and started to put Cardiff under a bit of pressure. I think Gus will realise deep down that he was quite fortunate today."