Finishing the game with just two fit players on the bench, the Broncos were beaten everywhere but the scoreboard, their desperate goal-line defence assisted by a Dragons side possessing little creativity with ball in hand.
In the end, it was a David Stagg try with 16 minutes remaining that iced a courageous away win, as Justin Hodges (hamstring) and Josh McGuire (calf) watched on injured from the bench.
The sorry effort is sure to increase pressure on Dragons coach Steve Price, while it also highlights just why the red and whites are so keen to snare sacked Canberra fullback Josh Dugan.
The Dragons' frustration was evident as prop Michael Weyman remonstrated towards the coach's box as he was pulled from the field in the dying stages.
But as bad as the Dragons were, nothing should take away from a marvellous effort by Brisbane, who were forced to play without Hodges for a spell when he was sin-binned around the halftime break for a professional foul after a try-saving tackle on Brett Morris.
They opened the scoring on five minutes via Ben Hannant - who was tireless after being promoted to the starting line-up.
The Dragons were denied a reply via Trent Merrin on video review with Nathan Fien taking out the marker.
At one stage, the Dragons repelled six straight sets of six on their own line.
Weyman eventually crashed over with his second touch to lock it up at 6-6, with Fien taken out in the lead-up with a high tackle that landed McGuire on report.
Just moments after Hodges returned to restore Brisbane's full compliment, Josh Hoffman scored when the normally reliable Jason Nightingale fumbled a Hodges grubber.
The home crowd was growing restless as the Dragons bombed chance after chance, finally put out of their misery when first Stagg and then Corey Norman scored late.
Having claimed his side lay down in last week's opening-round loss to Manly, Broncos coach Anthony Griffin was full of praise for his troops.
"One thing we showed tonight was a heap of courage and character and belief," he said.
"It wasn't pretty, but that's what got us home in the end.
"This time of year, it's very hard to get momentum. Tonight, we had no right to get it but we fought for it."
Griffin confirmed Hodges' hamstring was only strained and he would likely be out for a fortnight, while McGuire could miss a month.
Price was adamant personnel wasn't the problem with the Dragons, but rather an inability to stick to the game plan.
"It was a tough one to take ... we had our chances in the first half and we came in at 6-all which was a bit disappointing," he said.
"We're just having too many temporary lapses with our attack at the moment.
"I've got all the belief and confidence in this playing group - that's not an issue whatsoever."