At the end of the game Darlington conceded a late goal for the first time this season as another two points were thrown away.
Everything looked rosy for the home side in the opening minutes of the game.
With less than a minute on the clock Gregg Blundell powered down the right flank and his cross for Tommy Wright saw the striker's effort land narrowly wide.
Seconds later the home side again went close with defender Rob Purdie going close with a long-distance drive.
Another effort from Wright went begging in the eighth minute before Rochdale got into their stride and began to put their stamp on the game.
In the 15th minute midfielder Glenn Murray mis-kicked in front of goal and then two minutes later captain Gary Jones fired over the crossbar with a shot from the edge of the area.
Darlington goalkeeper Andy Oakes came to his side's rescue when he stretched to push away a shot from Adam Le Fondre and then a minute later he was again involved in the action when he stretched to push a shot from Ben Muirhead around the post.
In the second half, and against the run of play, Darlington took the lead in the 59th minute.
Julian Joachim raced clear and his pin-point cross found Wright who powered a header past Rochdale keeper James Spencer.
In the 62nd minute Wright again went close when connecting with a cross from Blundell, but his header flashed narrowly wide and then a minute later Blundell broke clear himself but his shot was blocked on the goal-line.
With time running out Dale substitute Rory Prendergast, who was on loan at Darlington last season, found space for himself at the far post and kept his composure to control the ball and fire a low drive into the far corner of the net to give the visitors a deserved equaliser.