Few chances were to follow in the following quarter of an hour but, on 19 minutes, Ritchie whipped a cross towards the back post where Atsu got the better of Mame Biram Diouf to slot home and score his first ever Premier League goal.
But manager Benitez was keeping his feet firmly on the ground as he celebrated a successful return to the dug-out.
Newcastle handed Stoke their first defeat since the opening day of the Premier League season thanks to Jamaal Lascelles' second half victor.
"Maybe we can lose games, but we have to believe we can win". It was a little bit different for us as Newcastle sat back, and they've got decent pace.
"We had a lot of chances and it was a great intensity from the boys from the start", Lascelles told Sky Sports.
He said: "We didn't play particularly well today - I didn't think we were poor, we just weren't particularly as good as we have been in recent weeks, so that's the disappointment".
"We're doing okay after a tough period of fixtures".
Following the loss, Stoke City now occupies the 13th league spot, and is set to face Bristol City in the EFL Cup on the 19th of September.
"It is a very competitive league and we are learning from that".