Jack Leach and Saqib Mahmood rescued England with a magnificent final-wicket stand after West Indies had made a dream start to the deciding Test at the Grenada National Stadium.
The tourists were deep in the mire on 114-9 after being put in by Kraigg Brathwaite in the third and final match of the series following draws in Antigua and Barbados.
Kyle Mayers (2-13) started the procession of wickets, with England in disarray after Jayden Seales (3-40), Kemar Roach (2-41) and Alzarri Joseph (2-33) ripped through the middle order.
But Leach (41 not out) and Mahmood (49) resembled top-order batters as they put on 90 before the seamer was dismissed by Jermaine Blackwood in the last over of the day in St George's, where England were all out for 204.
Zak Crawley gifted Mayers the first wicket, driving straight to Brathwaite at cover, and the same bowler had Root caught behind without scoring before Seales trapped Dan Lawrence lbw to leave England in trouble on 46-3 at lunch.
Things went from bad to worse for England as they lost three wickets without scoring a run, with Ben Stokes caught and bowled by Joseph misjudging a pull and Jonny Bairstow out for a duck after Alex Lees (31) nicked Roach behind.
Seales produced good pace to skittle Ben Foakes and Roach made a mess of Craig Overton's stumps with a quick delivery that nipped back significantly, reducing the tourists to 90-8.
Woakes (25) looked comfortable until he was bowled through the gate by Seales, but Leach and Mahmood settled in to turn the tide in unlikely fashion.
Leach was dropped by Mayers on 10 and John Campbell slipped a chance Mahmood offered up when he had 15, with the seamer adding insult to injury by launching the next ball from Mayers for six.
The runs continued to flow despite the second new ball being taken, but part-time spinner Blackwood bowled Mahmood just before the close to provide some relief for the flagging Windies.
Mayers makes big impact on his return
All-rounder Mayers got the nod ahead of spinner Veerasammy Permaul for his first Test of the year.
He justified his recall in quick time, seeing the back of Crawley before drawing an edge from Root with a scrambled seam getting the ball to nip away from the in-form England skipper.
Seales, Roach and Joseph also ran riot in the afternoon session to put England on the ropes before the tail wagged.
Leach and Mahmood haul England off the canvas
The Windies lost their way as Leach and Mahmood batted with a combination of tenacity and skill.
This was just the second time a number 10 and 11 were the two leading scorers in a Test innings, with the first pair being Tom Garrett and Edwin Evans for Australia versus England at the SCG way back in 1885.
Playing in only his second Test, Mahmood bettered his best first-class score of 34 and fell agonisingly short of a maiden half-century. Leach faced 141 balls in his latest rearguard act.