Scott McDonald had earlier nodded in Barry Robson's corner and Boro seemed destined to to earn all three points and move level with Southampton at the top of the table.
McDonald twice hit the bar after his opening goal and it proved to be crucial as Rowe snatched a point at the end.
Boro will feel they did enough to earn the victory as the visitors offered little attacking threat before falling behind. But they were far more adventurous in the second period and the draw meant they extended their unbeaten run to four games.
Middlesbrough still moved into the automatic promotion places after defeats for Southampton and West Ham but Rowe's late goal meant they were unable to record their fifth successive victory.
It was also the first time Tony Mowbray's side had dropped points in December after four successive victories.
Both sides remained unchanged from their respective 1-0 Boxing Day wins and it was Middlesbrough's match-winner Robson who very nearly picked up where he left off against Hull.
The midfielder gave Boro all three points with a stunning strike three minutes from time and he looked lively again in the opening exchanges.
He found space in the 10th minute but his lofted shot went over the bar before he tried his luck again with a blasted shot which produced the same outcome.
The nearest Boro came to breaking the deadlock came when right back Justin Hoyte found some space in an advanced position. The home supporters encouraged the former Arsenal man to try his luck and his shot across the face of goal only needed a touch but it narrowly evaded McDonald.
It seemed as though Boro were destined to have an off-day in front of goal but their persistence was rewarded six minutes into the second half.
Robson's inswinging corner found McDonald at the near post and with little room to manouvre, he glanced his header into the corner of the net.
Posh boss Darren Ferguson responded by replacing Daniel Kearns with Joe Newell and that switch seemed to give the visitors more freedom. A sweeping move ended in a George Boyd shot which Middlesbrough keeper Jason Steele had to palm away.
Scott Wootton and Paul Taylor then went close with fierce shots from distance but Boro, buoyed by the arrival of top scorer Marvin Emnes' from the substitutes' bench, responded at the other end as McDonald twice struck the bar with thundering efforts.
It proved costly as Posh found an equaliser. Steele made a terrific save to flick Taylor's shot wide but Rowe planted a header into the top corner from the resulting corner to deny Boro victory.