A late Morten Gamst Pedersen free-kick broke the stubborn resistance of Sheffield United and earned Blackburn victory at Ewood Park.
Pedersen (l) scored a dramatic winner as the game looked set for a draw
Pedersen had headed the opener at the far post for the home side to punish the Blades for early missed chances.
But Jon Stead latched on to a Rob Hulse flick-on to coolly slot in an equaliser against his former club.
Blackburn's Stephen Warnock was sent-off for two bookable offences before Pedersen curled in the winner.
Sheffield United had burst out of the blocks but failed to capitalise by converting any of three great early opportunities.
Stead was the first culprit when he stabbed a shot wide from eight yards with only keeper Brad Freidel to beat.
The home side were uncertain and hesitant in defence and Hulse almost made them pay only for his shot across goal to hit the bar before being frantically cleared.
606 DEBATE: Your reaction to Blackburn's win
Nick Montgomery volleyed wide after a nod back from the byline as another Blades chance went begging and a concern that they would suffer the consequences of their profligacy.
It proved to be the case when Sheffield United stood off and let Brett Emerton cross for Pedersen to head in at the far post.
But Stead found his goalscoring touch as he stole in front of Christopher Samba and coolly slotted in.
Rovers had been unsettled by the brash nature of their opponents but slowly showed their steely streak.
They had a chance to take the initiative again only for Pedersen to shoot wide when clean through on goal.
Sheffield United's work ethic was just as strong after the break but David Bentley's creativity unlocked their defence before his low shot was well-saved by keeper Paddy Kenny.
Hulse hooked a shot over his head just wide at the other end with both sides sensing and searching for a winner.
Blackburn exerted the greater pressure but suffered a blow when Warnock was dismissed after fouling Derek Geary and earning a second yellow card.
But, just as a draw looked on the cards, David Dunn won a free-kick and Pedersen produced one of his trademark set-pieces to curl in and leave Kenny rooted to the spot.
Blackburn boss Mark Hughes (on Pedersen's free-kick):
"The technique Morten has in that sort of situation is as good as anybody I have seen.
"In the end we possibly got a little bit more out of it than we deserved and in fairness that is credit to Sheffield United who worked extremely.
"It is not often we are able to win Premiership games without playing to our maximum but we did here."
Sheffield United boss Neil Warnock:
"It's a cruel game but sometimes you have to take it on the chin and get on with it.
"I don't think we got what we deserved and the lads are feeling really down.
"We were punished at Fulham for a similar thing and it is hard to take. But we can take a lot of plusses and we gave a good account of ourselves."
Blackburn: Friedel, Emerton, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Bentley, Mokoena (Dunn 60), Kerimoglu (Nonda 87), Pedersen, Derbyshire (Roberts 17), McCarthy.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Khizanishvili.
Sent Off: Warnock (88).
Goals: Pedersen 22, 90.
Sheff Utd: Kenny, Geary, Jagielka, Lucketti, Kozluk, Tonge, Montgomery, Armstrong, Stephen Quinn, Stead, Hulse.
Subs Not Used: Bromby, Webber, Alan Quinn, Fathi, Kazim-Richards.
Booked: Armstrong, Geary, Tonge, Stead.
Goals: Stead 25.
Ref: A Marriner (W Midlands).