Steve Clarke's side looked set to rack up their third defeat of the opening four Premier League fixtures as they trailed Fulham 1-0 going into stoppage time at Craven Cottage.
However, McAuley registered his team's first top-flight goal of the new season as he headed powerfully home in the 90th minute to hand the visitors a morale-boosting point.
And the Northern Irishman is now hopeful that his last-ditch goal will spur his team-mates on as they chase a first league win of the season against Sunderland at home on September 21.
He said: "It gives you an extra buzz when you get a point in an away game in the last minute. We needed it. It was important we got off the mark. It's a monkey off our back.
"It gives us a platform to build from going into next week's home game with Sunderland. We need to take the positives from this game and grow in confidence."
McAuley also admitted that he would like to continue his recent run of goal scoring form after he also notched twice during the recent international break.
He added: "It's not been too bad a week for me. Some of the lads asked if I could do three in three. I've done that so now I might have to try to score four in four.
"It hung up quite nicely and I just had to get my head on it. I knew if I got it on target it had a chance of going in [and] it was great to score in injury time."
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