Dwight Gayle struck the crossbar via the fingertips of Wednesday goalkeeper Keiren Westwood early on, but the Owls settled well and spurned numerous chances of their own before and after half-time.
In the 53rd minute, Carlos Carvalhal's side finally found a way beyond the impressive Kark Darlow in the Magpies' goal, courtesy of Glenn Loovens' first goal for the club.
Despite a sustained period of pressure late on there was no way back for Newcastle, who will drop to second if Brighton beat QPR on Tuesday.
Without the suspended Jonjo Shelvey, it was always going to be tougher for Rafa Benitez's side. However, in Jack Colback, who was named in an England international squad little over two years ago, Newcastle, in theory, had an adequate replacement - even if he had just spent the past six matches on the sidelines.
How did the former Sunderland man get on? Here is what the Newcastle United fans thought of his performance...
Have seen some woeful midfield performances in my time but Jack Colback tonight must be up there #NUFC— Colin Beveridge (@CbeveridColin) 26 December 2016
Colback in midfield WILL NOT get us promotion or goals for that matter #nufc— John Dixon (@DickoNortheast) 26 December 2016
Omg what a load of crap tonight, Colback IS NOT the answer to the Shelvey problem. #NUFC— Kris Hendry ☃️ (@geordiekris83) 26 December 2016
Can't have Colback play another min in that midfield,utter garbage #NUFC— ◾️Ryan◾️ (@RyanIcardi99) 26 December 2016
God awful situation when we fall apart because of 1 player out. Call me negative all u want but we can't have Colback anywhere near us #nufc— JASE........ (@lozjackjenna) 26 December 2016
Yeah it was only Colback's first game back for a while but Jesus Christ he offers us Nothing! Creative midfielder desperately needed #NUFC— Kris. (@hoothoot81) 26 December 2016
Colback takes three touches to play a hospital ball. Scary times. #NUFC— Michael Sidgwick (@MSidgwick) 26 December 2016