Rochdale took a big step away from the danger zone by denting Fleetwood's play-off challenge with a battling win.
Winger Ian Henderson drove home the opener after a breakaway from George Donnelly, who squeezed the ball past Scott Davies for his side's second.
Fleetwood were awarded a penalty, but Josh Lillis saved from Andy Mangan, and then lost Nathan Pond, who was sent off for a touchline incident.
Jason Kennedy blasted in a late third to take Dale eight clear of the drop.
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Fleetwood manager Graham Alexander told BBC Radio Lancashire:
There wasn't any semblance of a performance - no competitiveness, ability, energy or pride.
"That's the bottom of the barrel for me. There's not one positive I can take. It's the worst performance I've seen for 10 years.
"That wasn't of any professional standard whatsoever. My job now is to make sure that never happens again."
Rochdale manager Keith Hill told BBC Radio Manchester:
"There's been a lot of work over the last seven weeks and we've worked my beliefs.
"You want people to buy into it and what you've seen there is a squad buying into the way football should be played.
"We've had a lot of fights along the way with the players to prove that I'm right and it's been difficult at times."