Roscommon moved clear of the relegation zone and took a huge step towards promotion after a scintillating victory in Newbridge.
Ugly scenes marred the finish as Kildare were reduced to 13 men when Eoin Doyle and Eamon Callaghan got straight red cards following separate incidents in second half injury-time. Roscommon finished with 14 when wing-back David Murray picked up a second yellow card after a brawl broke out near the end.
"You could see something like that coming," admitted Roscommon manager John Evans. "There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, we were confused, there was a lot of confusion out there towards the end of the game to be quite honest with you. I was bemused by a lot of the calls that were there today. I don't think the players knew what was going on either."
There was even more confusion before the finish when Kildare were awarded a penalty after a foul on Callaghan. In the skirmish that followed, Callaghan was shown a red card before the game was called to a halt by referee Fergal Kelly before the penalty could be taken.
"He just finished the game," said Kildare boss Jason Ryan. "I didn't think he hopped the ball."
Although a goal would have been mere consolation at that stage for Ryan's side, score difference could yet be crucial in the race to avoid relegation. However with two away games to come, survival is looking increasingly unlikely for the Lilywhites.
The game itself was an absorbing contest that turned on a brilliant passage from Roscommon after half-time. Trailing by 2-9 to 0-12 at the interval, the Rossies reeled off six successive points to move ahead. Star man Cathal Cregg landed three of his six points from play in that devastating spell.
Kildare scored just three points in the second half having made a blistering start. They led by 2-6 to 0-6 after 18 minutes thanks to goals from Callaghan and Fionn Dowling. Callaghan struck first in the 11th minute when he fired low past Darren O'Malley after Daniel Flynn had played him through.
It had been end-to-end stuff before that as the sides shared 10 points in the opening 10 minutes. Kildare's second goal came in the 18th minute when Dowling reacted quickest after Eoghan O'Flaherty's effort came off the post.
Roscommon recovered half of the deficit before the break. Cregg was inspirational in attack, firing over three first-half points from play. The visitors might have had a goal as well but Conor Daly's effort was saved.
After such a free-flowing first half, the second was a much more tactical affair. Roscommon took control in midfield and they were devastating in attack, outscoring their opponents 12-3. Again Cregg was to the fore, adding three more points from play. Kildare were still within striking distance with four minutes to go when O'Flaherty popped over a free but Roscommon finished in style with a trio of points.
For Kildare, it was their fourth defeat of the campaign and their third reversal at home as they edge ever closer towards Division 3.
Man of the Match: Cathal Cregg