Lee Clark rescued a point for Newcastle after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seemed to have sealed a win for Middlesbrough.
Clark fired home from the edge of the box after the Magpies piled forward for a late corner.
After Michael Owen's broken foot, Hasselbaink looked to have piled more festive agony on Newcastle boss Graeme Souness with three minutes left.
Nolberto Solano had put the Magpies ahead with a free-kick before Aiyegbeni Yakubu equalised from close range.
Solano's goal spared Albert Luque's blushes, whose miss in the opening minutes brought frustration to a St James' Park crowd still struggled to terms with the prospect of Michael Owen's prolonged absence.
After beating the offside trap and rounding Mark Schwarzer, it seemed a simple task for Luque to roll the ball into the net.
However, he could only look on in anguish as his shot hit the base of the post and bounced to safety.
It seemed impossible for any player to miss a clearer chance but, somehow, Mark Viduka managed it at the other end.
Stuart Parnaby's cross for the Australian could not have been better.
However, the former Leeds striker somehow scooped the ball over the bar from only a couple of yards.
He would have still been thinking about it when the home side took the lead.
They were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out and it seemed destined for Alan Shearer to attempt to surpass Jackie Milburn's club scoring record.
But, with the wall having perhaps anticipated a blaster from the former England captain, he ran over the ball and a gap was exposed by Solano who curled the ball into the corner.
Boro needed to score their first away goal since the end of October to force something in the second half and they managed to get on the scoresheet nine minutes after the restart.
And Yakubu was on hand to show Viduka how it is done from an almost identical opportunity.
Titus Bramble gave the ball away and the Newcastle defence was caught square as the impressive James Morrison was played in down the right.
This time, the awaiting Yakubu made no mistake, stroking his cross into the net from just outside the six-yard box.
Solano could have nodded the Magpies into the lead again when he connected to Luque's cross at the far post but he was only able to head the ball onto the roof of the net.
Jean-Alain Boumsong also missed a great chance to score his first Newcastle goal but he was unable to hook home Shearer's header.
They were left ruing their missed chances when Viduka sent Hasselbaink through on goal.
Although it looked like the Dutchman had overrun the ball, he got to it just in the nick of time to slip the ball between Given's legs.
It looked to have been enough for Boro but after forcing a late corner, the ball fell to Clark on the edge of the box and he fired through a crowd of players into the net.
Newcastle assistant manager Alan Murray:
"We were probably the better side over 90 minutes but, being 2-1 down with a minute to go, we are pleased to have got something from the game.
"We deserved it but they caught us on the break twice.
"Right at the end, it was all hands to the pump but Lee kept control and just managed to hit the shot on target.
"But we were happy with the performance and the workrate the players showed."
Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren:
"It's a cruel game because we didn't deserve that after putting in an excellent performance. We just didn't see the game through.
"We created quite a few chances before they scored but showed great character to go one down in a local derby against the run of play and come back into it.
"I thought young Lee Cattermole was outstanding on his debut. He's only 18 and didn't look out of place at all.
"We have got plenty of good youngsters at the club and we are not afraid of throwing them in."
Newcastle: Given, Ramage, Bramble, Boumsong, Elliott (Babayaro 45), Solano, Faye, Clark, Ameobi (N'Zogbia 45), Shearer, Luque.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Chopra, Brittain.
Goals: Solano 27, Clark 90.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Parnaby, Riggott, Southgate, Pogatetz, Morrison, Doriva, Mendieta (Bates 69), Cattermole, Viduka, Yakubu (Hasselbaink 74).
Subs Not Used: Maccarone, Jones, Johnson.
Booked: Hasselbaink, Bates.
Goals: Yakubu 54, Hasselbaink 87.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).