Matt Tootle's first goal for the Crewe deserved share of the spoils after a below par Rochdale had twice led in a game which ended 2-2.
Crewe dominated from the off but needed goals from Ashley Westwood and Tootle to cancel out second-half strikes from Craig Dawson and Kallum Higginbotham.
Calvin Zola netted for the home side after just two minutes but his effort was ruled offside.
Minutes later Zola dragged Joel Grant's lay-off wide and Clayton Donaldson produced a fine save from Tom Heaton with a 25-yard effort.
Zola and Donaldson both sent chances wide before the Railwaymen were denied a first-half penalty when Nathan Stanton appeared to trip Zola in the box.
But the league leaders took the lead when Dawson drilled home Tom Kennedy's 53rd-minute corner from six yards out.
Westwood restored parity when he rammed the ball home from the edge of the box in the 71st minute only for Higginbotham to drill into the roof of the net for the Dale three minutes later.
But Tootle earned a point when he hit home at the second attempt in 76th-minute.
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