Rotherham bounced back from a goal down after their run of four straight home defeats.
It meant Ronnie Moore finally put one over on City boss Nicky Law - a former Rotherham player who has never lost to Moore as manger of Chesterfield and City.
City made a flying start rocking Rotherham by grabbing the lead just 90 seconds into the game.
Cityâ€™s direct style had Rotherham scrambling to clear the area and Darren Garnerâ€™s header dropped at the feet of former Rotherham defender Wayne Jacobs.
He tossed a high ball into the box and the darting run of Dane Claus Jorgenson caught out the home side and he burst into the box rifling in his low short from close in.
City danger man Ashley Ward might have stretched the lead straight afterwards but his header was over the top.
And only a stunning double save from Rotherham keeper Mike Pollitt after eight minutes denied Bradford another.
First Pollitt had to be alert to beat away Andy Grayâ€™s angled effort and the keeper saved with his legs when Ward smashed the follow up shot in.
But Garner might have levelled for Rotherham when he seized upon a chance when keeper Aidan Davison punched out after a long throw from Nicky Daws but Garnerâ€™s volley dipped over the bar.
But Rotherham hit back with the equaliser after 20 minutes. Garner flighted a curing free kick into the box and Martin McIntosh provided a power header to claim his fourth goal of the season.
Bradford produced an astonishing display of desperate defending after 36 minutes to deny Rotherham the lead.
In a hectic 30 second spell John Mullin and Darren Byfield had shots blocked, Byfieldâ€™s header hit the bar and a Mullin cross appeared to be handled in the area.
Pollitt again saved Rotherham in the dying seconds of the first half when he blocked a stinging effort from Jacobs.
But Garner grabbed his third of the season to put Rotherham ahead four minutes into the second half.
A long throw from Daws was headed down by Richie Barker and Garner hit a tame shot that ricocheted off a City leg past Davison.
On the hour Rotherham went further in front with a Byfield penalty - his 12th goal of the season after Byfield was cut down by Robert Molenaar on a weaving run into the box.
Amazingly straight from the kick-off Ward galloped into the area and was felled by McIntosh in the area gifting City a penalty lifeline that was coolly converted by Gray but the home defender astonishingly avoided a red card and was only booked.
Atherton was sent off six minutes from the end after being booked twice in four minutes.