Francois Zoko's winner extended Carlisle's unbeaten home run to 13 games at the expense of Rochdale.
Dale twice went close but Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro's shot was deflected and Michael Symes's effort was well saved.
Zoko's mazy run allowed Lee Miller to cut the ball back for Jon Paul McGovern to fire in the opener.
Jason Kennedy glanced in Andrew Tutte's cross to score the equaliser against the run of play, but Zoko won it with a low drive shortly afterwards.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Carlisle United boss Greg Abbott told BBC Radio Cumbria:
"I'm delighted with the response after half-time as we weren't happy with our intensity but we told them and got the response.
"The big players came to the party. Francois Zoko was like chalk and cheese and in the second half he deservedly won us the game, but we need that for 90 minutes.
"We could've won more handsomely, but they drew with Sheffield Wednesday, they're fighting for their lives and it's three points.
"Our fans were fantastic and I applaud them. They need to spread the word and we need every bit of help we can get as it was a small crowd and not good enough for where we need to be.
"We're looking to move the club forward and we need thousands more people in. We're starting to achieve now and have made massive strides forward."
Rochdale manager John Coleman told BBC Radio Manchester:
"I'd just like to apologise to our supporters for our second-half performance.
"It was way below standard and everything we said at half-time we didn't put into practice.
"We were second to every ball, we backed off them and we got what we deserved, which was nothing.
"To get back into the game, it's heartbreaking to concede how we did, but it was symptomatic of how we played tonight."
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.90:00 +2:19
Andrew Tutte takes a shot. Save made by Adam Collin.90:00 +0:30
Francois Zoko produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the goal.89:12
Corner taken by Brian Barry-Murphy from the right by-line to the near post, Lee Miller makes a clearance.88:23
Liam Noble gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Brian Barry-Murphy. Brian Barry-Murphy takes the free kick.87:08
Peter Murphy takes the indirect free kick.87:08 Booking
Booking Joe Widdowson receives a yellow card.86:46
Unfair challenge on Lee Miller by Joe Widdowson results in a free kick.86:02
Francois Zoko crosses the ball, Effort from the edge of the box by Liam Noble goes wide of the left-hand post.84:50
Brian Barry-Murphy takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Lee Miller.83:53
Francois Zoko produces a cross, Lee Miller takes a shot. Save by David Lucas.82:38
Joe Widdowson crosses the ball, save made by Adam Collin.80:52
Unfair challenge on Lee Miller by Kevin Long results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Jon-Paul McGovern.78:41
Inswinging corner taken by Brian Barry-Murphy from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Francois Zoko.78:07
Lee Miller gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Kevin Long. Indirect free kick taken by David Lucas.77:34
Foul by Stephen Darby on Francois Zoko, free kick awarded. Adam Collin restarts play with the free kick.76:49
Lee Miller concedes a free kick for a foul on Stephen Darby. Brian Barry-Murphy restarts play with the free kick.75:13
Assist on the goal came from Liam Noble.75:13 Goal scored
Goal! - Francois Zoko - Carlisle 2 - 1 Rochdale Francois Zoko finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Carlisle 2-1 Rochdale.75:08
Centre by Liam Noble,
Andrew Tutte takes a shot. Adam Collin makes a save.73:02
Assist by Andrew Tutte.73:02 Goal scored
Goal! - Jason Kennedy - Carlisle 1 - 1 Rochdale Jason Kennedy finds the net with a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Carlisle 1-1 Rochdale.72:58
Centre by Andrew Tutte,71:23
Andrew Tutte produces a right-footed shot from outside the penalty area and misses left.69:11
Jon-Paul McGovern delivers the ball, Stephen Darby makes a clearance.67:47
Michael Symes is adjudged to have handled the ball. Adam Collin takes the indirect free kick.67:04
Jon-Paul McGovern delivers the ball, Joe Widdowson makes a clearance.65:47 Substitution
Substitution Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro goes off and Andrew Tutte comes on.65:35
Frank Simek delivers the ball, Dean Holden makes a clearance.61:49
Shot on goal by Ashley Grimes from just inside the area goes over the target.59:59 Substitution
Substitution Ashley Grimes is brought on as a substitute for Nicky Adams.58:02
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee Miller by Dean Holden. Free kick taken by Jon-Paul McGovern. Lee Miller takes a shot.57:39
Shot from just outside the area by Liam Noble goes over the bar.56:02
Assist by Francois Zoko.56:02 Goal scored
Goal! - Jon-Paul McGovern - Carlisle 1 - 0 Rochdale Jon-Paul McGovern finds the net with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Carlisle 1-0 Rochdale.55:44
Francois Zoko crosses the ball, clearance made by Jason Kennedy.55:03
Shot from just outside the box by James Berrett misses to the left of the target.52:54
Jason Kennedy takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Francois Zoko.51:00
The offside flag is raised against Lee Miller. David Lucas takes the indirect free kick.50:40
Francois Zoko delivers the ball, clearance by Nicky Adams.49:52
Centre by Francois Zoko, clearance by David Lucas. Inswinging corner taken by Jon-Paul McGovern.49:01
Joe Widdowson concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee Miller. Liam Noble takes the free kick.48:36
Lee Miller is ruled offside. David Lucas restarts play with the free kick.47:25
Effort from the edge of the area by Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro goes wide of the right-hand upright.47:08
James Berrett delivers the ball, save by David Lucas.45:01
The referee gets the second half started.45:01 Substitution
Substitution (Carlisle) makes a substitution, with Liam Noble coming on for Patrick Madden.45:00 +1:55 Half time
Half Time It is the end of the first-half.45:00 +1:30
The official flags Lee Miller offside. Free kick taken by David Lucas.45:00 +0:11
The ball is delivered by Gary Jones, Danny Livesey manages to make a clearance. Jason Kennedy decides to take the corner short.43:03
Corner taken right-footed by Jason Kennedy from the left by-line, free kick awarded for a foul by Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro on Adam Collin. Indirect free kick taken by Adam Collin.41:10
Joe Widdowson challenges Patrick Madden unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in from Peter Murphy, blocked by Gary Jones.39:13
The ball is delivered by Frank Simek, Jon-Paul McGovern produces a header from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the goal.36:07
Peter Murphy restarts play with the free kick. Jon-Paul McGovern takes a shot. Blocked by Gary Jones.33:35
Francois Zoko sends in a cross, clearance by Dean Holden. Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Lucas by Lee Miller. David Lucas takes the free kick.32:38
Indirect free kick taken by Brian Barry-Murphy.32:38 Booking
Booking Booking for James Berrett for unsporting behaviour.32:19
Unfair challenge on Nicky Adams by James Berrett results in a free kick.30:36
Jason Kennedy takes a shot. Danny Livesey gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Jason Kennedy, Peter Murphy makes a clearance.27:40
Lee Miller fouled by Dean Holden, the ref awards a free kick. Lee Miller shoots direct from the free kick.26:51
Francois Zoko concedes a free kick for a foul on Nicky Adams. Indirect free kick taken by David Lucas.22:47
Shot from a long way out by Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro goes wide of the left-hand upright.21:19
Michael Symes is penalised for a handball. Peter Murphy takes the indirect free kick.20:37
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nicky Adams by James Berrett. Free kick taken by Brian Barry-Murphy.19:06
Effort from just outside the box by Michael Symes goes over the bar.17:16
Nicky Adams crosses the ball, Frank Simek manages to make a clearance. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Jason Kennedy from the left by-line, Effort from inside the area by Kevin Long misses to the right of the target.15:46
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Jon-Paul McGovern, save made by David Lucas.14:35
Outswinging corner taken by Jon-Paul McGovern from the right by-line played to the near post, Peter Murphy takes a shot. Stephen Darby manages to make a clearance.13:55
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro produces a cross, clearance by Danny Livesey.13:11
The ball is crossed by Gary Jones, Danny Livesey manages to make a clearance.12:31
Nicky Adams crosses the ball, Danny Livesey manages to make a clearance.10:21
Lee Miller fouled by Dean Holden, the ref awards a free kick. Jon-Paul McGovern takes the free kick.8:34
Corner taken left-footed by Brian Barry-Murphy from the right by-line, clearance by Danny Livesey.7:56
The ball is swung over by Joe Widdowson, Michael Symes takes a shot. Adam Collin makes a save.4:51
The ball is swung over by Jon-Paul McGovern, Close range strike by Francois Zoko goes over the bar.3:44
Michael Symes takes a shot. Save by Adam Collin.3:06
Foul by Lee Miller on Kevin Long, free kick awarded. David Lucas takes the free kick.2:35
Gary Jones crosses the ball, save by Adam Collin.1:16
Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro produces a right-footed shot from close in that clears the bar. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Jason Kennedy from the right by-line to the near post.0:24
The offside flag is raised against Patrick Madden. David Lucas takes the indirect free kick.0:00
The referee starts the match.
Live data and text provided by our data suppliers