Given the lurid headlines in the newspapers regarding an alleged affair with the ex-girlfriend of former Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge, Terry might have been expected to give this game a miss. However he decided to front people up and Burnley were defeated at home in the league for only the second time this season.
It was a cruel blow for them as Steven Fletcher had equalised after Nicolas Anelka opened the scoring. Chelsea strolled through the first half and were good value for the goal from the French forward in the 27th minute.
Terry was under the spotlight and his first touch saw him head the ball out of play.
Burnley's new signing from Stoke, Leon Cort, had to be on his toes in the seventh minute following a swift counter-attack by Chelsea as he turned away Joe Cole's cross with Anelka lurking.
Chelsea maintained the momentum and Anelka played the ball back to Frank Lampard a minute later, but he skied his shot over the crossbar. Anelka then fluffed his effort inside the area to the amusement of the Burnley fans, after good work by Joe Cole.
But Anelka was to have the last laugh as he made the breakthrough for his 12th goal of the season.
It was a sweeping move that caught Burnley flat-footed. Joe Cole delivered a cross to the back post and Florent Malouda chased what looked like a lost cause. He managed to steer the ball back into the area and Anelka lost two defenders to coolly finish things off.
Terry was then booked in the 35th minute for barging over Robbie Blake as he tried to burst forward. The crowd were incensed with the Chelsea defender's challenge and let him know.
Chelsea, though, were playing with confidence and Brian Jensen did well to head clear as Anelka tried to get on the end of a good ball from Branislav Ivanovic.
Blake then sent a free-kick into the Chelsea area after 43 minutes but Anelka showed his defensive qualities by heading clear.
Burnley equalised after clever work by Blake. He put Alex under pressure with a ball into the area and a superb first touch from Fletcher enabled him to get the better of the Brazilian defender to score his 10th goal of the season with a deft finish.
Chelsea hit back and Joe Cole found the net in the 56th minute but his effort was ruled offside shortly after a shot from Lampard was blocked.
Clarets manager Brian Laws decided to boost his attacking options three minutes later when Martin Paterson replaced Kevin McDonald. It was a bold move against the league leaders by the former Sheffield Wednesday manager.
Chelsea almost regained their lead in the 64th minute but Jensen got down quickly to parry Lampard's driven free-kick from 25 yards.
The visitors kept up the pressure and the goalkeeper then made a comfortable save from Alex after Malouda and Anelka had linked up.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti decided to switch things around in the 73rd minute and brought on Daniel Sturridge for Joe Cole.
Sturridge then saw a header parried by Jensen before Terry silenced the home crowd in the 83rd minute. He peeled away from his marker and got on the end of a corner from Malouda to head home. Given the allegations about his private life, it was little wonder his celebration was muted.
However it proved to be Chelsea's winner and takes them four points clear of Manchester United, who face Arsenal on Sunday.