THE CANARIES missed their chance to move into the Sky Bet Championship play-off places after a 2-1 defeat to Brentford on Saturday.
Alex Pritchard's second half penalty won all three points for the visitors, who impressed throughout to secure a victory that moves them six points ahead of City in the table.
Jota had given the west Londoners the advantage midway through the first half, but Nathan Redmond restored parity with his second goal of the season.
In an even second-half, it was the Bees who netted the winner to capitalise on a kind set of midweek results for both teams.
City will now aim to bounce back against Birmingham City at St Andrew's next Saturday, but they finished this match four points off the top six.
Alex Neil made one change to his team from last Saturday's home victory over Cardiff City - Gary O'Neil was missing from the squad, with Steven Whittaker slotting into midfield.
Elliott Bennett and Sebastien Bassong made their returns, both taking spots on the substitutes' bench.
Brentford were ahead of the Canaries in the league before kick-off and started with leading scorer Andre Gray in attack, and he spurned a glorious chance inside the first minute.
Stuart Dallas slid a pass through Norwich's defence, and Gray was in on goal, but hesitated before firing over the bar with only John Ruddy to beat.
Brentford were showing all the good qualities that have made them the division's surprise package this season and they took a merited lead on 21 minutes.
While their game up to then had been based on pushing the home team back, their goal came from their first counter-attack of the half.
Moses Odubajo stole possession off Whittaker and drove forward. He then fed Gray, who in turn spotted Jota on the right hand side, and the Spaniard curled the ball first time beyond Ruddy.
It was no less than Mark Warbuton's team deserved but City showed determination to force themselves back into the contest, and they drew level six minutes later.
David Button punched clear Whittaker's corner, Kyle Lafferty's volley was blocked and the ball fell to Redmond.
City's winger, their best player in the opening 45 minutes, skipped beyond Jake Bidwell and shot low and beyond the Bees' goalkeeper.
The game was finely poised in the wake of the Canaries' leveller, with referee Nigel Miller not shy in brandishing his yellow card, but Toumani Diagouraga's treatment after a tackle from Bradley Johnson ensured a quiet end to proceedings prior to the interval.
HALF-TIME: Norwich City 1-1 Brentford
Bennett was introduced at the break for his first City appearance since September, replacing Lafferty, who had picked up a caution.
City were on top in the initial exchanges but chances were few and far between in a game that both teams knew was slowly becoming one of the most important of the season.
Johnson should have done better when presented with a chance from Bennett's lay-off, but it still would have been difficult to score first time from the 20 yards from where he blasted the ball well over.
Ruddy had a nervous moment when needing a second attempt to keep out Dallas' drive, but he then made an excellent stop to deny Jonathan Dougles, getting down low to his right to palm the ball to safety.
Wes Hoolahan came on for Hooper with just over 20 minutes left on the clock as Neil looked to change things, but for the second home game in succession, Carlos Cuellar conceded a penalty on 71.
He was adjudged to have felled Gray in the box, and Pritchard stepped up to sweep the ball home and re-establish the visitors' lead.
City somehow didn't level three minutes later, partly down to the woodword, which denied Johnson, and then a magnificent save from Button to keep out Cameron Jerome.
Neil brought Lewis Grabban on for Whittaker but Brentford were successfully stifling the Canaries, although Grabban could have levelled in the first minute of stoppage time.
The striker leapt onto Jerome's flick-on, but Button was there to make the save and it was Brentford who took a crucial three points.
FULL-TIME: Norwich City 1-2 BrentfordGOALS
: Nathan Redmond (27) - Bees
: Jota (21), Alex Pritchard (pen 71)
: Ruddy; Martin (c), Cuellar, Turner, Olsson; Whittaker (Grabban 79), Johnson; Redmond, Hooper (Hoolahan 69), Lafferty (E Bennett 45); Jerome. Subs not used
: Rudd (GK), Murphy, Bassong, McGrandles.
: Button; Bidwell, Dean, Douglas (c), Odubajo, Dallas (Toral 87), Gray (Long 86), Diagouraga, Pritchard, Jota (Smith 79), Tarkowski. Subs not used
: Bonham (GK), Craig, Saunders, Yennaris.
: Nigel Miller
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