Burnley 1 Chelsea 2
Terry had made the tabloid headlines for all the wrong reasons and had to endure constant taunts from the home supporters about his personal life.
But, typical of the England skipper, he showed great resolve to snatch all the points for his team after it looked like Burnley were going to produce another performance of passion against one of the big four clubs.
Burnley manager Brian Laws included central defender Leon Cort for his debut and found a place in the starting eleven for the diminutive Robbie Blake.
Chelsea went in front with a goal from close range by striker Nicolas Anelka that came ironically as the Clarets were enjoying their best spell of the game.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech was the initial creator with a quick throw out to the right wing where Joe Cole took full advantage of the space in front of him to pick out Florent Malouda at the far post and his knock back was converted with ease by Anelka.
The home side suffered a further blow to their chances when left-back Christian Kalvenes limped off to be replaced by David Edgar.
Striker Steven Fletcher brought Turf Moor to its feet with an equaliser early in the second half after good link-up play with Blake.
Fletcher showed great skill and determination in keeping control of the ball, holding off a defensive challenge and then striking his shot beyond Cech.
Chelsea poured forward in search of a winner and although they enjoyed the vast majority of possession, they didn't ask too many questions of Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen.
He did make one fine save as he did well to scramble to his right to beat away a Frank Lampard free-kick.
With time ticking away, Terry broke the heart of the home supporters when he met a right-wing corner from Lampard and found the net with a firm header.
The victory means that Chelsea have managed to win at Turf Moor, which was beyond either of their title challengers Manchester United and Arsenal.
A second home defeat of the season for Burnley means that they have collected only five points out of a possible 36, but if they show as much determination and fight against so called lesser opponents they may yet avoid the drop against all odds.