Michael Jennings scored a last-gasp try to deny Queensland Maroons a first State of Origin whitewash since 2010 as New South Wales Blues won 18-14 in Sydney on Wednesday.
Queensland had already earned their 10th series win in 11 years by prevailing in the opening two matches, but trailed 6-4 heading into the half-time interval.
The Blues had looked the stronger side but the momentum shifted when a Gavin Cooper touchdown was followed by a yellow card for Andrew Fifita - the New South Wales replacement sin-binned for a bizarre attack on the try scorer.
NSW withstood the pressure that came with being a man down but looked to have thrown the game away when Josh Mansour's slip allowed Darius Boyd to score his 17th Origin try.
But it was Jennings who applied the finish to a Blues attack in the spectacular dying seconds of the match, clinching a face-saving victory for Laurie Daley's side.
Greg Inglis opened the scoring with a try after four minutes, before Tyson Frizell showed great strength to dive for the line and restore parity midway through the half.
James Maloney added the extras and was on target again when Fifita crossed shortly after the half-time break - NSW having earlier failed to make the most of a 10-minute stint in the bin for Cooper Cronk.
With the Blues leading 12-4, Cooper gave Queensland hope but he was hauled to the ground by the neck by Fifita in the aftermath, putting the Maroons on the front foot.
Queensland could not make their numerical advantage pay, although Boyd later capitalised on Mansour's stumble to send his side in front, with Jonathan Thurston's conversion attempt hitting both posts and the crossbar before bouncing out.
The match looked won for Queensland but a rapid breakaway by NSW saw debutant James Tedesco hauled down agonisngly short of the line, before Jennings sent Blues fans into raptures with a powerful try-scoring leap.
Retiring captain Paul Gallen was given the honour of taking the conversion and made no mistake, but the series finished 2-1 to the Maroons.