Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder hailed his team's performance after two goals from Lee Evans saw them beat Middlesbrough 2-1 and boost their play-off hopes.
Boro, who had skipper Grant Leadbitter sent-off midway through the first half, saw Daniel Ayala reduce the arrears early in the second half.
Johnny Howson went close to equalising in the latter stages, putting a curling effort just inches wide.
But Wilder said: "When you look at the quality of the opposition and the magnitude of the game as well, we played really well.
"We've played well recently and not got a win. I thought we were outstanding in the first half.
"Credit to the opposition, but I thought we contributed to our own downfall in the second half with the goal we conceded. We got tight and a little edgy.
"We have to learn from that. We need to be a bit more composed and calm when games become tight. They had nothing to lose and went for it.
"It was important that we got three points to keep the season going and we've done that.
"The defeat against Barnsley was damaging but we're in the game and I'm expecting an electric atmosphere on Saturday when we face Millwall."