Club stalwart David Dunn spared Blackburn's blushes deep into second-half stoppage time to extend 10-man Burnley's 34-year wait for east Lancashire derby glory.
The former England midfielder, making his first league start since October due to persistent calf problems, showed a cool head to dispatch a loose ball in the Clarets box into the net, after five of six scheduled additional minutes.
Both teams went into the match in dismal form, but Burnley had by far the better of an opening period interrupted by a home supporter releasing a chicken onto the field in protest against the regime of Rovers' poultry magnate owners Venky's.
And when Jason Shackell converted Ross Wallace's 32nd-minute free-kick at the second attempt it appeared to mark another dark day in the Indian family's calamitous tenure at Ewood Park.
Blackburn pressed either side of Ben Mee's 64th-minute dismissal for two quickfire bookings, but displayed all the cutting edge of a team without a goal in six of their previous seven outings until Dunn's late intervention.
Michael Appleton's Rovers lie four points above the npower Championship relegation zone in 18th and three points behind their rivals with a game in hand.
Todd Kane joined fellow loanees David Jones and Cameron Stewart in the Blackburn line-up after the 19-year-old Chelsea right-back returned for a second stint at Ewood Park this season on Friday.
Marvin Bartley and Martin Paterson replaced David Edgar and Keith Treacy for Burnley, with the latter two out of the matchday 18.
The Clarets' top scorer Charlie Austin enjoyed a half-chance in the ninth minute, hooking a volley over with Rovers defenders in close attendance.
Blackburn poured forward after the unscheduled poultry stoppage and striker Jordan Rhodes was left with a bloodied nose when he took a boot to the face from Burnley centre-back Michael Duff.
Rovers goalkeeper Jake Kean was forced into a magnificent 19th minute save - touching over when Austin teed-up Paterson. Austin blasted wildly off-target to conclude a clever routine from the resulting corner in unsatisfactory fashion.
Moments later Kean was called into action once more, getting down to his left as Wallace's long-range attempt bounced awkwardly.
Blackburn chances remained few and far between, although Jason Lowe was crowded out in the box having tenaciously dispossessed Wallace and exchanged passes with Rhodes in the 26th minute.
The game started to drift as the early intensity tailed off and it was Burnley who capitalised.
Bartley, a bustling influence at the heart of the visitor's midfield, was fouled by Jones 40 yards from goal and Shackell slammed home after his initial header from Wallace's floated delivery came back off the post.
Burnley instantly looked to press home their advantage with Rovers reeling, and Wallace came agonisingly close with 30-yard free-kick that clipped the upright.
At the other end, Jones spurned a better set-piece opportunity 25 yards from goal when he embarked upon an ill-advised keep-ups routine.
Josh Morris replaced Leon Best at half-time, pushing Stewart further forward, and the on-loan Hull winger caused Burnley problems in the hole behind Rhodes.
Shackell headed his deflected goalbound effort behind moments after the restart before illegally halting his run through the middle - Jones taking a more conventional option and shooting wide this time.
Just as Burnley were starting to look comfortable, Mee's heavy touch on a run forward from left-back saw him career into Grant Hanley and earn a second booking six minutes after a late challenge on Dunn.
It might have been 10-a-side when Hanley, carrying a first-half yellow card, brought his hand across Kieran Trippier's face when chasing a punt forward.
Aside from a couple of frantic goalmouth scrambles, Burnley were largely untroubled until Stewart's chipped ball into the box was touched on by Lowe and the unmarked Dunn clinically drove past Lee Grant left footed.