In a game of few clear-cut chances, Cesar was there again in the 53rd minute, this time reacting sharply when Defoe's shot took a deflection.
QPR created little and their best work came through the combination of Adel Taarabt and Shaun Wright-Phillips, the former Chelsea and City winger coming closest in the first half when Michael Dawson's block diverted his goal-bound effort.
Andre Villas-Boas made seven changes to the team that started last weekend's FA Cup win against Coventry City.
Hugo Lloris, Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen, Aaron Lennon, Mousa Dembele, Sandro and Defoe all returned. Vertonghen partnered Dawson centrally with Kyle Naughton at left-back.
Cesar's saves to deny Defoe and Adebayor proved to be the highlights of a somewhat scrappy encounter.
Defoe's initial strike from the inside left channel looked in all the way before Cesar touched the ball onto the inside of the post. Adebayor was first on the scene and looked to have done everything right, stepping away from Ryan Nelsen and then firing at goal, only for Cesar to divert the ball down into the ground and up over the crossbar.
Bale had another half-chance from the corner but headed straight at Cesar.
QPR's best chance followed five minutes later as Taarabt's pass released Wright-Phillips into the box. Walker held him up initially but Wright-Phillips was only six yards out when he aimed at goal, Dawson got back to deflect the ball wide.
There was a blow as Sandro limped off injured on 25 minutes, replaced by Scott Parker.
After a couple of wayward efforts from distance at either end, QPR had the last chance of the half as Taarabt fed Wright-Phillips again, but this time the winger dragged his shot wide.
We started the second half brightly. Cesar took Bale's dipping free-kick at the second attempt, Parker whistled a 25-yarder just over and Walker was inches over with another free-kick, this time from the left edge of the area.
Cesar's third world-class save of the afternoon arrived eight minutes into the second half as Dembele and Adebayor set-up Defoe for a snapshot from 20 yards. The effort clipped off Clint Hill but Cesar reacted in time to block with his leg.
QPR remained happy to sit in and it took until the 78th minute for the next action of note and Lloris' only serious save as he darted out of his box to clear from Wright=Phillips, again looking to get onto a Taarabt pass.
The pair combined again with five minutes remaining, but Wright-Phillips couldn't take the ball in his stride as he darted into the box.
The final effort came from Defoe, a sweet strike from 20 yards blocked by Hill throwing himself in front of the ball.
QPR (4-1-4-1): Cesar; Onuoha, Hill, Nelsen, Fabio; Derry; Mackie, Mbia, Park, Wright-Phillips; Taarabt. Unused subs: Green, Ferdinand, Cisse, Ben Haim, Faurlin, Bothroyd, Campbell.
Spurs (4-4-2): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton; Lennon (Sigurdsson, 79), Dembele, Sandro (Parker, 25), Bale; Adebayor (Dempsey, 69), Defoe. Unused subs: Friedel, Assou-Ekotto, Caulker, Huddlestone.
Yellow cards: QPR - Mbia. Spurs - Dembele.
Referee: Mr L Probert.
The legendary Brazilian goalkeeper produced an incredible double save to deny Jermain Defoe and then Emmanuel Adebayor's follow up in the sixth minute.