John Terry thought he had won all three points for the Blues when he scored with a minute of the match remaining.
This after the Blues had gone one-up only to lose the lead then get back into the game.
But it was heartache for the Chelsea faithful as Ciaran Clarke nipped in to level the score at 3-3.
Seven weeks ago Chelsea was five points clear of the table, now they are six points adrift of Manchester United and outside a Champions league position in fifth place.
Chelsea blitzed Aston Villa 7-1 in the corresponding fixture last season but while there were six goals here, it was never going to be a rout. In fact Chelsea, a team seemingly in terminal decline looked the most likely to lose.
The visitors had the first chance of the game, when Gabriel Agbonlahor took a snap shot from outside of the Chelsea area but it went harmlessly wide of Petr Cech’s right post on 3 minutes.
Some slack marking almost let Drogba in a minute later but Brad Friedel snuffed out the chance.
Ashley Young forced Cech into tipping over a cross over his bar on 15 minutes.
Stuart Downing brought Cech into action two minutes later when the winger’s powerful shot went straight to Cech’s midriff
Sylvain Petrov received a yellow card for upending Florent Malouda on 20 minutes.
But a minute later Chelsea were awarded a penalty when James Collins went over the back of Malouda in the Villa penalty area and referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot. Friedel and Collins got yellow cards for protesting.
Lampard, who has missed his last three penalties including and England kick, stepped up and fired the ball successfully past Friedel to put the home side ahead.
Reo-Coker picked up a yellow card too for fouling Drogba as Villa demonstrated their frustration.
On 30 minutes and Ashley Young corner saw Clark head powerfully and only just over Cech’s crossbar from eight yards out.
A quick counter attack on 36 minutes saw Chelsea on the back foot, but Downing failed to capitalise and skied his left footer high and wide
Smart work by Villa on the outside of Chelsea’s area on 37 minutes saw centre-back Richard Dunne, free on the left but he scooped the ball over Cech’s goal.
Chelsea had their first yellow card of the game a minute later when Ramires upended Reo-Coker in midfield.
Villa deserved to get a spot kick five minutes from half-time when Michel Essien needlessly upended Reo-Coker; Young rammed home the spot kick.
Agbonlahor got his yellow two minutes later for a foul on Ramires.
Villa ended the half on the attack which saw Collin’s far post header well saved by Cech.
Villa turned the game on its head two minutes into the second half when a fine cross by Downing on the right and Heskey out jumped Bruma from four yards out and headed into the goal to put the visitors 1-2 up.
Heskey however then became the sixth Villa player to be given a yellow card.
A blistering volley by Drogba on 54 minutes was charged down and ramies missed a fine effort by screwing the ball wide of the Villa’s goal.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti made the first change, replacing Ferreira with Jose Bosingwa on 57 minutes.
Frank Lampard forced Friedel into a brilliant reaction save on 62 minutes when his half-volley from 10 yards out was tipped over the Villa bar.
Friedel was on tip-top form a couple of minutes later smothering a Malouda effort after Lampard’s inch-perfect defence-splitting pass.
The ineffectual Ramires was replaced by the striker Salomon Kalou on 72 minutes.
Villa’s first effort on goal for a while saw Downing arrow a fine left-footer which Cech did well to handle.
John Terry entered the ref’s book on 76 minutes.
Ancelotti’s last throw of the die was to bring on Birmingham-born Daniel Sturridge for Nicolas Anelka with 12 minutes remaining.
With six minutes remaining the sheer physical presence of Drogba saw the Blues level the match. The Ivory Coast striker took advantage of a misjudgement by Dunne to ram the ball home from close range.
With a minute to go, captain John Terry found himself just outside the Villa penalty area.
With Friedel producing a magnificent save from Drogba, the ball fell invitingly to Terry who coolly slotted the ball into the net with deft righ footer
With the three points in the bag, Chelsea went to sleep, allowing Clarke to nick in behind the Chelsea rearguard and tuck the ball past Cech to make it 3-3.
Subs: 22 Ross Turnbull, 17 Jose Bosingwa, 38 Patrick van Aanholt, 46 Josh McEachran, 52 Jacob Mellis, 21 Salomon Kalou, 23 Daniel Sturridge.
Villa are expected to start in the following 4-4-2 formation:
Friedel; Cuéllar, Dunne, Collins, Clark; Young, Reo-Coker, Petrov (c), Downing; Agbonlahor, Heskey.
Subs: Marshall, Lichaj, Herd, Bannan, Albrighton, Pires, Delfouneso.
The referee is Lee Mason.