It was the rearguard action masterminded by 34-year-old former Manchester United defender Brown, making his first league start for almost 22 months, which kept the visitors at bay in the face of a concerted assault.
Poyet said: "He was maybe the key to the clean sheet, maybe the difference between conceding and not.
"It's maybe the different level you can see with a player who has won the Premier League and can see things before the rest.
"Look, it was not easy to keep him out because I know that Wes was desperate to get back. But as a staff and as a manager especially, you have to make decisions even when they are hard, so we kept him out.
"To be fair to him, the last two weeks he has trained every day, so there was no special treatment.
"Then depending on how he feels, we need to be smart. There is a sentence in football which is great: the manager needs to treat everybody the same way.
"No chance. They are all different. They come from different parts of the world, they are different characters and unfortunately in football, there are players who are more important than the others.
"I don't think you would treat (Lionel) Messi the same way that you would treat ones on the bench. I'm not comparing him to Messi - he is not Messi, Wes, don't get me wrong - I am just saying sometimes you need to know the person, know the player and manage him."
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