Shaun Maloney saved Wigan Athletic a late point with a stunning free kick in the 93rd minute to move them level on points with Sunderland after Loic Remy broke hearts with his 85th minute first time effort on the counter attack.
The game was summed up by Remy's goal after Bobby Zamora's first half red card for a high boot to Jordi Gomez's head set the tone of counter attack for the hosts.
Roberto Martinez started with an unchanged line-up for the fourth game in a row, with no changes to the substitutes bench either.
It was a first half of progressive build-up versus counter attack at Loftus Road as the hosts preferred the latter.
Just nine minutes into the half Loic Remy had the crowd on their feet as his shot from the edge of the area bounced off the outside of Joel Robles' right hand post.
Latics got away with one for sure but then so did QPR 10 minutes later when Callum McManaman's left footed ball into the box from the right was allowed to bounce by two QPR defenders, luckily for them there were no Latics bodies to follow in the opportunity.
Moments later came the high boot from Zamora.
The ball was in the air and there to be won as long as both players used their heads but, Zamora didn't and as Gomez led with his head Zamora led with a very high boot and caught the Spaniard on the side of the head with his studs showing.
After treatment on the ground to Gomez, referee Phil Dowd pulled Zamora aside and gave the forward his marching orders.
QPR continued to look dangerous and the counter attacking became even more frequent as they soaked up Latics' pressure with every man behind the ball.
Latics came close on two occasions though, with McManaman inches away from opening the scoring as his daisy cutter teed up by Arouna Kone fizzed just wide of Cesar's right hand post.
James McCarthy also saw a fierce shot saved as he had an attempt from outside the area tipped wide by the Brazilian goalkeeper.
The visitors found it hard to make that crucial pass in the final third as QPR defended solidly and every time the ball was won back by the hosts they countered.
Two more chances fell to QPR before the break, with a free kick from the right bouncing around in the area with neither side getting a foot on the ball, until Latics eventually cleared from the scramble.
In stoppage time Emmerson Boyce was the hero for Latics when a counter attack down the right saw Jose Bosingwa thread a ball behind Latics' defensive line and into the path of Remy, luckily Boyce tracked it and got a toe on the ball as he slid in to clear.
The second half was much like the end of the first as QPR countered time after time and clear cut chances were hard to come by.
QPR broke against Latics at every opportunity but didn't test Robles as Latics just managed to scamper back each time.
It took until the 77th minute for Latics best chance as substitute James McArthur should have scored when he connected with a header from Gomez's cross just six yards out but saw Cesar make a heroic and instinctive save to deny him.
Eight minutes later and Latics continued to put the pressure on as they lined up a free kick but the strike of the ball cannoned off the back of Franco Di Santo's boot and away to Stephane Mbia for the counter attack.
The long legs of the Cameroonian stretched Latics and with the outside of his boot he played in team mate Remy down his right who let fly first time with his side foot, sending the ball into the opposite top corner of the goal, erupting Loftus Road.
Latics were shell-shocked and needed a response and what a way to get it.
With just 60 seconds left Maloney was fouled by Mbia 20 yards out giving Latics one last opportunity.
Up stepped the Scotsman and the magic just followed as he stroked the ball right footed past Cesar and in for a crucial away point.