Saracens had to play 70 minutes with 14 men but managed to secure a 13-13 draw against Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park on Saturday.
Saracens were lucky to avoid two red cards for the sickening head-high double challenge from prop Richard Barrington and centre Brad Barritt that ended Exeter lock Geoff Parling's day just 10 minutes in.
Sarries moved back to the top of the Premiership table courtesy of the draw, but Wasps can regain the lead with victory over Leicester on Sunday.
Barrington was sent off on his 100th Saracens appearance for an ugly shoulder hit on Parling, but captain Barritt was hugely fortunate to avoid the same fate. The nasty-looking double hit challenged World Rugby's new zero tolerance officiating on high tackles that came into force on January 3.
After a lengthy video review the officials at Allianz Park issued Barrington a red card - but declined to punish Barritt at all. Referee Ian Tempest told Barrington his challenge was a "shoulder direct to the head with force" on issuing the red card.
Assistant coach Alex Sanderson told BT Sport that Saracens had "no complaints" with Barrington's dismissal, while also admitting the hosts could have been reduced to 13. Sanderson said "they both could have gone", accepting that captain Barritt was lucky to avoid sanction for his own high challenge on Parling.
Parling's head whipped back wickedly on the impact of Barrington's challenge, with the 33-year-old knocked immediately unconscious. The ex-Newcastle Falcons second row received 10 minutes' treatment on the field before being removed on a stretcher, although was later well enough to watch the rest of the match from the replacements' bench.
Exeter took immediate advantage of Barrington's red to register the game's first try, with England wing Jack Nowell finishing in fine style. Saracens withdrew right wing Sean Maitland to bring prop Titi Lamositele into the scrum as cover for the dismissed Barrington.
The ever-savvy Gareth Steenson launched a crossfield kick into that right-wing chasm and Nowell delivered an NFL-style catch at full stretch before dotting down. Steenson's conversion put Exeter 10-0 to the good, only for Saracens to dominate possession and territory in the half's middle third.
Alex Lozowski's penalty cut Sarries' deficit to seven points, but Exeter rallied before the break. Don Armand was denied a try thanks to Chris Wyles' last-ditch tackle and Michael Rhodes dislodging the ball across the try-line, leaving Exeter leading 10-3 at the break.
Lozowski cut Saracens' deficit by three with an early second-half penalty, and the hosts were further boosted when Steenson missed a goal of his own just ahead of the hour.
Exeter struggled despite their man advantage, and Steenson's second penalty of the day eventually proved an insufficient buffer. Replacement prop Lamositele was bundled over for a try four minutes from time, and Lozowski's conversion tied the game at 13-13.
Steenson snatched at and failed with a late drop-goal attempt for the Chiefs, but Saracens held out for the draw.