Match ends, Derby County 1, Brentford 1.
Darren Bent's injury-time strike earned Derby a fortunate draw against fellow Championship high-flyers Brentford.
Alex Pritchard's fabulous first-half shot had looked set to take Brentford in to the top five at Derby's expense.
But Bent reacted quickly to poke home after Jeff Hendrick's mis-hit effort to earn a point.
And the Bees were left to rue a number of wasted chances after going ahead, with Andre Gray missing three second-half openings.
The Bees moved in to the play-off places on goal difference prior to the afternoon kick-offs and remain a point behind the hosts.
Derby had won just twice in 10 games before getting their faltering promotion challenge back on course with a 2-0 victory at struggling Wigan Athletic last week.
Buoyed by that win, a lively start saw Thomas Ince send a delightful 25-yard free-kick narrowly wide and have another curling effort saved by goalkeeper David Button.
But Brentford settled and they then dominated, playing with the assurance and quality that has been so evident all season.
Rams keeper Lee Grant made a decent block from Moses Odubajo's shot after a brilliant move.
And with the visitors keeping possession with ease and the intricate passing and movement of Jota, Pritchard and Alan Judge increasingly threatening, they took the lead on the counter-attack.
Judge found Pritchard, who cut inside from the left and bent a superb shot in to the far corner for his 10th goal of the season.
Ince and Bent remained Derby's biggest threat, but the danger was only occasional and the home side were booed off by their frustrated fans at the break.
The pattern of the game continued, Gray twice went close in the opening 10 minutes after the break, first with a low strike and then blasting another shot off target after battling through the home defence.
The former Luton man also headed over and Jonathan Douglas had a shot cleared off the line by Craig Forsyth after great work by Jota.
Rams substitute Zak Whitbread forced an unconvincing stop from Button late on.
But with two minutes of added time remaining ex-England striker Bent netted from close range to deny Brentford an 11th away win of the season.
Derby County boss Steve McClaren:
"I would be very disappointed if I was Brentford going home with just a point. They were better than us, they passed the ball better than us, they were more fluid than us.
"But we stayed in the game and got in some vital blocks and tackles and showed enough character to do that. We probably made more mistakes in one game than we have in all the previous home games and we know that.
"They fought and stayed in the game and got a bit of luck and anybody whose watched us all season will say 'about time'. We got out of jail, we got a big point and we've got four opportunities to get in the play-offs."
Brentford boss Mark Warburton:
"There have been heated words said in the dressing room but that shows you how far we've come to come to Derby and only get one point and be disappointed.
"We've got where we are by playing the game our way and we should have been two or three up. We dealt with their threat, we played good football and they had to change their formation. We kept our width and played well and it's a real frustration.
"It was a professional showing from the players and they are winners. They have been brave, they took responsibility, they were quick to deal with the football. I am very proud of them and I hope the fans are proud of them but the overriding frustration is that we didn't get the win."
- 3ForsythBooked at 90mins
- 37WarnockSubstituted forWhitbreadat 78'minutes
- 11RussellSubstituted forDawkinsat 45'minutes
- 4BrysonBooked at 41minsSubstituted forLingardat 78'minutes
- 8HendrickBooked at 89mins
- 26TarkowskiBooked at 6mins
- 23JotaSubstituted forDallasat 70'minutes
- 21PritchardSubstituted forToralat 86'minutes
- 19GraySubstituted forSmithat 83'minutes
- Graham Scott
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Derby County 1, Brentford 1.
Craig Forsyth (Derby County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Stuart Dallas (Brentford) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Craig Forsyth (Derby County).
Goal! Derby County 1, Brentford 1. Darren Bent (Derby County) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jeff Hendrick.
Attempt missed. Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Chris Martin.
Foul by Jon-Miquel Toral (Brentford).
Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Jeff Hendrick (Derby County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Tommy Smith (Brentford) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jeff Hendrick (Derby County).
Substitution, Brentford. Jon-Miquel Toral replaces Alex Pritchard.
Toumani Diagouraga (Brentford) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Chris Martin (Derby County).
Tommy Smith (Brentford) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Craig Forsyth (Derby County).
Corner, Derby County. Conceded by David Button.
Attempt saved. Zak Whitbread (Derby County) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Tom Ince with a cross.
Corner, Derby County. Conceded by Moses Odubajo.