Newcastle surrendered top spot in the Championship after losing 1-0 at Nottingham Forest in Saturday's late match.
Chris Hughton's side kicked off at the City Ground ahead of West Bromwich Albion only on goal difference after the Baggies defeated Reading 3-1 earlier in the day.
Forest striker Dexter Blackstock's 45th-minute goal condemned Newcastle to only their second league defeat of the season and also allowed Albion to move into pole position on goals scored.
Newcastle had a Kevin Nolan goal disallowed but struggled to create many other clear chances and are now winless in three games.
Roberto Di Matteo's Albion trailed early on to a header from Reading's Matt Mills, but Jerome Thomas levelled in the 29th minute.
The Baggies went ahead in the 65th minute through Thomas, who produced a fine finish past Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Albion rounded off the scoring when Youssouf Mulumbu blasted in a volley from the edge of the area in the 87th minute.
Middlesbrough, relegated along with Albion and Newcastle last season, slipped further off the promotion pace as Watford claimed a surprise 1-0 win at the Riverside Stadium.
Tom Cleverley, on loan from Manchester United, hit the winner in the 26th minute as the midfielder slotted home his fifth goal in 10 league matches for the Hornets.
Gareth Southgate's hosts thought they had equalised at the start of the second half when Sean St Ledger headed home from close range, but the goal was ruled out for a foul and Boro slumped to their third consecutive home defeat.
Cardiff moved into third place despite being held to a 1-1 home draw by Crystal Palace.
Dave Jones's team suffered an early blow when defender Mark Hudson scored a 13th-minute own goal against his former club.
But the Bluebirds drew level when Peter Whittingham notched his fifth goal in four games in the 19th minute.
Blackpool are fifth after Ian Holloway's side defeated Plymouth 2-0.
The hosts went ahead when Blackpool defender Marcel Seip, on loan from Plymouth, struck in the 31st minute.
David Vaughan's 64th-minute goal ensured Holloway would celebrate victory over his former club.
Ipswich boss Roy Keane is still searching for his first win after a 1-1 draw with Swansea at Portman Road.
Craig Beattie fired the visitors ahead in the seventh minute before Pablo Counago equalised for bottom of the table Ipswich eight minutes later.
Elsewhere, Leicester stayed seventh after a 0-0 draw with Derby while Bristol City were held to a 1-1 draw with Peterborough.
The Robins were on the brink of victory after Cole Skuse scored a fine solo goal to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
But George Boyd, making a club record equalling 124th consecutive appearance, headed a 90th minute equaliser.
QPR thrashed Preston 4-0 while Scunthorpe claimed a 3-1 win over Sheffield United, whose bitter rivals Sheffield Wednesday strolled to a 2-0 win over Coventry.
Barnsley claimed their third consecutive win as Adam Hammill's strike defeated Yorkshire rivals Doncaster 1-0.