The Baggies recorded their first victory since November 2 to end a nine-match winless run courtesy of a late Saido Berahino penalty which came after Magpies defender Mathieu Debuchy was sent off.
Downing, who has been in charge since Steve Clarke’s sacking in mid-December, was relieved to finally orchestrate a win which was warmly-welcomed by the starved Albion fans.
"You could tell by the reaction of the crowd and the players it's been a long time coming, but it's been coming over the last week or so. We've had a good Christmas and we've finished up with a good home win today," Downing told Sky Sports.
"You saw the last five minutes. It was all a bit hectic and bit hairy-scary. The players have dug in really well. They've done that over the last week or two. I'm really pleased for them because they've turned it around.
"I asked the question when I first took it on. I asked them to challenge themselves. They've done that and I'm pleased for them."
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