McDermott's side have only lost once since Boxing Day, a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham, and have pulled themselves from the foot of the table to sit two points clear of the relegation zone.
The Royals have become the masters of late goals and it was no different against Sunderland as Kebe added to his opening goal on seven minutes with a dramatic winner five minutes from time.
The Malian took his first goal with aplomb but it was his match-winning header that McDermott felt epitomised his effort.
"Jimmy Kebe is becoming phenomenal in the air," he said. "I was so pleased for him because he such a brave player both physically and mentally.
"He wants to get on the ball and I think the first goal was fabulous. He wins headers and is good in the air, that was a great finish. Ian Harte has put it in there and Jimmy has had to finish it off and he was brave.
"It was late in the game as well so it is difficult to come back at that stage."
Reading's current streak came on the back of seven consecutive league defeats but McDermott said it is a better understanding of the top flight, rather than a different approach, which has yielded the change in fortune.
"There is no secret, I didn't all of a sudden after Christmas do something different," he said.
"I personally had to learn about this league, I had to have the experience for this league and I didn't have it.
"But I have learnt quickly, the players learnt quickly and the staff have learnt quickly. We had to find a way to win and we have done that. It has been a steep learning curve for all of us."
Sunderland slipped to 12th with defeat at the Madejski Stadium after it looked like Craig Gardner's first-half penalty would be enough to secure a point for Martin O'Neill's side.
The Black Cats had a couple of chances of their own to claim the victory but O'Neill was ultimately left riled by Reading's late goal.
"Naturally I'm disappointed to concede so late in the game, particularly on the back of a couple of really good chances we had ourselves," he said.
"I thought Reading started better than us and got a goal in front but we started to come into the game a bit more before we scored the penalty."
Alfred N'Diaye missed a golden opportunity for the visitors and debutant Danny Graham forced a great reaction save from Adam Federici before Kebe's winner, and O'Neill felt that if either had managed to put his side in front they would have gone on to see the game out.
"In the second half, as the game was to-ing and fro-ing, I thought we looked in reasonable control," he said.
"Anything can happen, of course, but we have had some really decent to chances to go and score - had we done so it might have been a long way back for Reading."
Kebe's winner came from an Ian Harte free-kick, the 35-year-old's set-pieces proving a constant menace to a team for whom he had short stint earlier in his career.
McDermott was not surprised by Harte's threat and neither was O'Neill, who said: "We've spoken about it before.
"His delivery has been great for years so, unless some of the new players who have come into the league don't know enough about him, anybody who has been in this league for a while knows how good he is."