"It wasn't a great performance," the Manchester United manager said. "We got off to a terrible start and Newcastle were pumped up for it. We expected that and we should have dealt with it better. Coming from 1-0 down, this was a good result for us.
"It required a lot of grit. Our football has been better and maybe we were careless with our passing of the ball. But we are pleased coming from 1-0 down.
"Newcastle knew it was a massive game for them and went about their job in the right way. They put some good crosses in.
"We faced a different challenge tonight. Newcastle were aggressive and tackled everywhere. Credit to them because they put a lot into their game.
"They were a bit fortuitous with their goal. Edwin [van der Sar] says himself he made a mess of it and they had a couple of near things after that. We could have been 2-0 down actually. [Obafemi] Martins hit one by the post. It was a hairy spell for us."
Ferguson was philosophical about the Dutch goalkeeper conceding his first goal in 1,311 minutes of Premier League action.
"It was going to happen some time and it is out of the road now," the Scot continued.
"[Dimitar] Berbatov finished well for the winner but if anyone was going to get us back into the game it was Wayne Rooney
. He has a good record at Newcastle."
Ferguson also played down the pressure facing his players following Chelsea and Liverpool's victories the previous evening.
"The teams who play first and get a result will always say the pressure is on but it doesn't make much difference to us," Ferguson added.
"You've got to rely on and trust the players. You have to show patience and experience. It is nothing new to them. We have got an emphatic victory in the sense we came from 1-0 down and then controlled the second half. The experienced players are keeping them all right in that respect."
Newcastle caretaker manager Chris Hughton is banking on his players to reproduce their endeavours against United in their remaining fixtures, starting with a visit to Hull a week on Saturday.
"We deserved to get something from the game but the result leaves us in a fight at the wrong end of the table that will go to last weeks of season. If we play like that we should be fine but we need to be putting points on the board.
"I've got a very disappointed changing room that has put on a spirited enough performance to get something from the game.
"To take the game to an in-form Manchester United and take the lead and be close to getting a second and then report back on level terms speak volumes for this group of players. We've got to reproduce those standards. The Hull game is massive."