Inaccurate kicking almost saw the ladder leaders toppled as the Cats wasted opportunities throughout the match.
But Geelong regrouped in the final term to come from 13-points down at the final break to snatch victory 14.21 (105) to Essendon's 16.7 (103).
Cats coach Ron Watt said he was happy to come away with the win, and he said Geelong's perseverance was the difference in the end.
``We kicked inaccurately but to our credit we stuck to it and were able to come from behind,'' Watt said.
``We started really well but Essendon was able to come back and they bottled us up.
``I think the depth of our list really came to the fore.
``I'm just happy to come away with the points and a win like this is really important for our season.
``It's nice to get a win out of something that looked a bit precarious.''
Gary Ablett junior, who played a strong game in the midfield, was Geelong's best player.
Ablett ran hard and carried the ball well all day.
He was well supported by Adam Chatfield and James Bartel who had a stint in defence, while Peter Street was solid in the ruck.
The win ensures Geelong remains a game clear on the top of the ladder.
The Cats will take on Tasmania at Skilled Stadium on Saturday.