Adelaide could avoid the wooden spoon after Bryce Gibbs signed off from the AFL by burying former club Carlton's finals hopes once and for all on Sunday.
The Crows, winless in more than a year before this month, have now won three games in 13 days after a brilliant first half set up their 10.12 (72) to 8.8 (56) win.
The Blues, needing a win to have any hope of playing finals, kicked just one goal in the first half to trail by 44 points at Metricon Stadium.
There were finally signs of life late in the third term when captain Patrick Cripps kicked a goal-of-the year contender, surging through traffic before turning his defender inside out to spark their comeback.
But they ran out of time as the Crows, in Gibbs' final game, moved to equal 17th on points with North Melbourne but behind on percentage with one game to play.
Former No.1 pick Gibbs had 27 disposals in the 16-point win, Rory Sloane selflessly offloading to him in the final moments for the fairytale finish, only for his shot at goal to sail just wide.
The veteran midfielder announced this week that the clash with the club he played 231 games for would be his last.
Traded to the Crows in 2017, the All-Australian had played just three games for them this year but was "happy to go out on his own terms".
"It was a really special day, and to get the win, even better," he said before being chaired off the ground by former teammates Kade Simpson and Marc Murphy.
"They're my best mates, some of them were in my wedding party so to share the last game together was pretty special.
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks said Gibbs' performance in his final game was the perfect way to go out.
"We jumped out of the blocks in the first quarter and they came back and challenged in the second so it's an even better response," he said.
"We knew they've come for us ... the reward is great and it's going to give our players some belief."
Lachlan Sholl (two goals, five inside 50s, 24 touches) dominated the first quarter to set the tone, Harry Schoenberg (21 disposals) was good again while Elliot Himmelberg (two goals) and Shane McAdam (one) were threats up front.
But the Blues were listless with it all to play for in the first term, Harry McKay's four goals too little too late.
"You give someone and inch and they turned it into scoreboard pressure very quickly," Carlton coach David Teague said.
"It was the little things that were hard to watch ... we let our fans down today."