Josh Windass took advantage of an error to put second-bottom Athletic ahead before Karlan Grant levelled with his 12th goal of the season.
The opening half-hour was pretty much devoid of any sort of excitement or entertainment, with neither goalkeeper required to do any sort of work.
Wigan supporters felt Huddersfield goalkeeper Kamil Grabara had handled the ball outside the area when sliding out to deny Windass, but referee Steve Martin thought otherwise.
Lee Evans was then harshly penalised by the official for challenging for the ball in the air and teeing up Windass, who fired straight at the goalkeeper as the whistle was being blown.
But as the half looked set to peter out completely, Wigan took the lead with a goal gift-wrapped to them by the home defence.
There was little danger as Grabara tried to play the ball out from the back, only for Windass to step in and intercept.
Windass was then one-on-one with the goalkeeper, and he gave him the eyes to finish easily into the bottom left-hand corner after 43 minutes.
Town almost gifted the Latics a second goal shortly after the restart, and again it would have been totally self-inflicted.
Grabara was left hopelessly short by a poor backpass, with Windass on to it in a flash.
But as the Wigan forward tried to flick the ball beyond the advancing goalkeeper, Grabara got enough on it, and a defender was able to clear.
Perhaps relieved by the let-off, Town then started to show for the first time and Juninho Bacuna's shot from distance was fumbled by Jamie Jones.
Fortunately for Wigan, the goalkeeper was able to collect at the second attempt before Grant could pounce.
But the warning wasn't heeded, and the West Yorkshire side did level the scores with 20 minutes remaining.
This time there was nothing Wigan could do, with Grant setting his sights from 15 yards before rifling home a super effort that flew into the top corner like a rocket.
Wigan's attempt at a response saw Windass shoot into the side-netting.
And the visitors almost made them pay as substitute Steve Mounie headed powerfully past Jones, only for Jamal Lowe to clear off the line in the nick of time.
Wigan were hanging on at this point, but they almost pinched all three points right at the death.
A Nathan Byrne header from the right-hand side of the area looked like it would fall perfectly into the path of substitute Anthony Pilkington, who appeared a certain scorer.
However, Town defender Christopher Schindler managed to get a slight touch on the ball to deny the forward a tap-in.