Tommy Bell's try five minutes from time secured Leicester Tigers' fourth win in four Aviva Premiership games during the Six Nations as they fought back to win 16-12 at Kingston Park.
Newcastle led 12-6 at half-time after tries by Scott Lawson and Sinoti Sinoti but Tigers turned up the heat in the final quarter, scoring ten unanswered points to secure the win that moves them up to fifth in the Aviva Premiership table.
It was replacement full-back Bell who made the decisive contribution, alert to the loose ball after Mathew Tait competed with Alesana Tuilagi for a high kick to dot down his first Aviva Premiership try.
Burns added the conversion and also kicked three penalties on a windy afternoon in the North East as Tigers extended their winning run to six games in all competitions.
Tom Youngs returned from Six Nations duty to captain Tigers for the first time. He was joined in the starting XV by England teammates Tom Croft and Geoff Parling.
Parling was partnered by Sebastian De Chaves in the Tigers second row, with Laurence Pearce at No8. Niall Morris returned to the team in the only change to the backline following last week's win over Sale Sharks.
There was a place among the replacements for Julian Salvi after missing the last two games with a calf injury and for hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini as he returned from international duty with Italy.
Newcastle included former Tigers wing Alesana Tuilagi in their starting XV for his first appearance against Leicester since he left Welford Road in 2012. Former Tigers hooker Rob Hawkins was named on the bench.
The game began in dry, sunny conditions with Tigers kicking into a stiff wind in the first half.
They made a patient start, probing the Falcons defence through a series of phases on the edge of the Newcastle 22 but without much reward. Eventually, Burns slid a grubber kick to get the hosts running back towards their line which was mopped up by Alex Tait, who cleared long.
Juan Pablo Socino's break put Newcastle onto the front foot for the first time and gave Tom Catterick the space to angle a kick to the right corner where Mathew Tait beat Sinoti Sinoti to the ball and conceded the 5m lineout. Kane Thompson set up the drive and with Tigers defence in trouble, hooker Scott Lawson joined the maul to score the game's opening try, which was converted by Catterick.
Parling broke a couple of tackles on the left wing to set Tigers on the attack. He got his offload away to Thompstone but the wing lost his footing as he tried to round last man Alex Tait and the chance went away.
Tigers were on top in the early scrums, winning a penalty and striking against the head in the first two set-pieces. The third scrum brought another penalty and, kicking into the wind, Burns drilled it over from 25m to put Tigers on the board.
Seremaia Bai made a brilliant recovery tackle to snare Catterick as the fly-half threatened to arc through a gap inside the Leicester half.
Tigers built a platform in the game with two more scrum penalties and then won a penalty for hands in the ruck after a smart break by Tait. Burns landed his kick to leave Tigers 7-6 behind after 30 minutes.
Newcastle brought Tuilagi on to a crash ball past a couple of defenders and it took a last-ditch tackle by Morris to stop the Samoa international just short of the line.
But Tigers were unable to clear the danger and Falcons struck for a second try. Sinoti was put into space on the right where he held off the tackles of Morris and Goneva to dot down at the corner. Referee Luke Pearce confirmed with his television match official before awarding the score.
Croft was replaced by Julian Salvi after taking a knock in the build-up to the try. Unconverted it gave Newcastle a 12-6 half-time lead.
Ruki Tipuna made a smart break to set the Falcons on the attack right at the start of the second half, but the scrum-half checked back into traffic as a gap appeared to open. Catterick then chipped towards Sinoti on the right but the ball beat him into touch.
Tommy Bell, on as a replacement for Morris, made a lovely 30m break to take Tigers into Falcons territory where Bai was pinged for holding on to possession.
Tigers were pinged for pulling down Josh Furno in the lineout but Catterick's kick into the wind dropped short for Bell to find touch.
Tigers were unable to get out of their own half and back the Falcons came with Catterick side-stepping out of a tackle before being halted by Sam Harrison 10m out. He knocked on in the tackle and Tait found touch on the 10m line.
Goneva stole possession on halfway to start a Tigers attack that continued through Logovi'I Mulipola and Tait, who kept the move alive with a brilliant pass out of the tackle. Falcons then went off their feet and Burns landed his penalty to cut the deficit to 12-9.
Tigers replaced the whole front row and their first job was to pack down after Catterick kicked his restart out on the full. And they won a penalty for Alex Rogers dropping the scrum.
Burns took the kick from bang on halfway but it dropped short and Falcons countered through Sinoti. He was scragged by Jordan Crane and Gibson charged down the clearance before being pinged for holding on in the tackle.
Brilliant work on the floor by Crane stole possession and gave Tigers a three-on-one overlap on the right on halfway but Furno's deliberate knock-on ended the attack. The Falcons replacement escaped with no further punishment.
A lovely step by Burns then took him up to the Newcastle 22 where replacement centre Jack Roberts lost his footing and was whistled for holding on.
It was now all Tigers and they had Falcons under huge pressure as the clock ticked into the final 10 minutes.
Rizzo's show-and-go was rewarded with a penalty that Burns pumped to the corner. De Chaves took the ball at the front of the lineout and set up the drive. It was pulled down and, with the advantage of the penalty, Burns kicked to the corner where Tait competed with his brother Alex, the ball fell loose and Burns dotted down. Referee Pearce went to his TMO before awarding the score.
The try gave Tigers the lead for the first time in the contest with five minutes remaining and was converted by Burns to leave Leicester 16-12 ahead.
Quick thinking by Burns had Tigers back on the attack, the fly-half scooped up loose ball on halfway and then fed Mele, who kicked crossfield to Thompstone in space. The wing was stopped just short but Crane followed up and claimed the try through a pile of bodies. However, the TMO ruled he was held up.
Tigers remained camped in the Newcastle half as the clock ticked over to see out another valuable victory.