Saracens were saved by the width of the crossbar as they edged Northampton 17-16 in Milton Keynes to return to second place in the Premiership table.
A dramatic denouement saw Northampton awarded a contentious penalty and when Saracens prop Rhys Gill kicked the ball away in dissent, the referee moved the ball 10 yards forward to take the kick into fly-half Stephen Myler's range.
Myler's kick travelled half the length of the pitch, only to strike the crossbar, and it was to prove the final action of the game.
It was a cruel finish to the match for Saints, who had fought back from 11-0 down by scoring 16 unanswered points through Myler's boot and a try from flanker Phil Dowson.
Champions Harlequins ended the weekend on top of the pile after a 26-15 success at home to second-bottom London Irish.