Ireland led 8-6 at half-time thanks to an early Bowe try and a penalty from Sexton. In the second half a decision from assistant referee Christophe Berdos was to prove crucial and lead to a try for Keith Earls.
Trailing by just those two points England were awarded a penalty and Wilkinson indicated a kick at the posts. However, after a short burst of handbags, Berdos pointed the finger at Danny Care for continuing the fray - when in fact Stephen Ferris should have been penalised for getting involved unnecessarily - and the penalty was reversed.
Sexton's kick took place into the English 22, Ireland drove for the line and when they were stopped short, O'Leary found Sexton going left his flat pass finding a willing recipient in the flying Earls.
England responded with a try from prop Dan Cole despite the efforts of Donncha O'Callaghan and Wilkinson's straight forward conversion tied the game 13-13.
His drop goal looked likely to win this until the combined efforts of O'Gara, O'Connell, O'Leary and Bowe settled in in Ireland's favour on a day that saw John Hayes win his 100th Ireland cap.