Royals did keep their first clean sheet of the campaign, but McDermott's men fell short of securing all three points against a dogged Canaries side.
It means Reading's search for a first Premier League win of the season drags on and they remain in 18th position in the table ahead of a tough home game against in-form Everton at Madejski Stadium this Saturday (3pm ko).
And McDermott admitted: "We could have nicked it but there wasn't much in it, it was a tight game.
"I thought we were in the ascendancy and we kept a clean sheet which is something to build on.
"But we didn't do enough with the ball, especially being at home. We didn't do enough quality-wise and we know that. Both teams were nervous at times but we move on with the clean sheet.
"We've scored numerous goals at home but not on Saturday. Maybe we needed an extra touch or just to try a few more things in and around the box."
However, McDermott also stressed: "Overall I'm not disappointed. We've had a few disappointments this season, for example being ahead against Arsenal and Swansea. But I can't be disappointed with the guys that have given us absolutely everything.
"The players were disappointed, but they needn't be."
McDermott made one expected change to the side that drew 1-1 at QPR with Adam Federici replacing the injured Alex McCarthy in goal.
And the home side bossed the early exchanges, pinning back the Canaries and forcing a few corners.
They threatened to break the deadlock on 13 minutes when Garath McCleary stung John Ruddy's hands with a fierce piledriver and Noel Hunt saw a penalty appeal turned down moments later.
The visitors, on the other hand, were struggling to get out of their own half and were limited to speculative long-range efforts that failed to trouble Federici.
Royals went close to taking the lead again on 25 minutes when Kaspars Gorkss headed over Ruddy's bar from a free-kick.
Norwich hit back with their first real opportunity and Federici could only watch as a Robert Snodgrass header flew just wide of the angle of post and bar.
But Royals remained in control and Canaries were lucky to survive when Jason Roberts skinned Sebastien Bassong and drilled in a cross which struck Michael Turner's heel and flew inches wide of Ruddy's near post on the half-hour mark.
Royals were still in control but, for all their possession, they failed to break the deadlock as the first-half petered out.
However, they rarely looked like conceding either as they strived for a first shut-out of the season.
Norwich, though, were not to be underestimated having beaten Arsenal and Stoke City in recent weeks.
And Wes Hoolahan fired a warning when he shot narrowly wide shortly after the restart.
McDermott had seen enough and he made a double change on the hour and sent on Pavel Pogrebnyak for Hunt and Jimmy Kebe for McCleary.
It injected a spark into Reading with Morrison heading wide from Nicky Shorey's free-kick then McAnuff smashed a 25-yarder narrowly over the bar.
But arguably the most clear-cut chance of the match then fell to unmarked Canaries striker Holt who failed to get his header on target from no more than eight yards out.
McDermott made one last throw of the dice by replacing Roberts with Adam Le Fondre in a bid to nick a late winner.
However, they were relieved to remain on level terms when Holt could only head straight into Federici's arms from close range with the clock ticking down.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici - Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey - McCleary (Kebe 60), Tabb, Leigertwood, McAnuff (c) - Hunt (Pograbnyak 60), Roberts (Le Fondre 79). Subs not used: Taylor, Mariappa, Robson-Kanu, Cummings.
Norwich City (4-4-1-1): Ruddy - Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido - Snodgrass (Bennett 86), Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington - Hoolahan - Holt (Morison 86). Subs not used: Bunn, Howson, Jackson, Tierney, Bennett. Yellow cards: Turner 78.
Referee: Chris Foy (Lancashire).
Attendance: 24,080 (Norwich 2,199).