MINNEAPOLIS — The Vikings needed to defeat the Packers on Monday Night Football and have a little help in Week 17 to win the NFC North and the right to host a playoff game.
But that shimmering goal was denied by a series of missed opportunities that added up in a 23-10 loss to the Packers.
The game marked the first home loss of 2019 for the Vikings, as well as the first win by the Packers in Minnesota since U.S. Bank Stadium opened in 2016.
The Vikings (10-5) will host the Bears (7-8) in Week 17 to close out the regular season and are locked in at the No. 6 seed in the NFC Playoffs, a berth that became a reality when the 49ers defeated the Rams on Saturday.
Green Bay (12-3) won its first division title since 2016 and could still wind up with a first-round bye or land in the No. 3 spot and host Minnesota on Wild Card Weekend.
If the Vikings are to make a deep run, they'll have to be road warriors throughout the playoffs.
Pre-game question: Could the Vikings perform well on Monday Night Football and prevail in prime time?
The location was at home instead of on the road, but Minnesota's loss to Green Bay took on a bit of déjà vu from just three weeks prior when the Vikings lost to the Seahawks in Seattle on Monday Night Football.
Green Bay was able to run the ball to the perimeter and keep the ball for a whopping 37:32 (similar to Seattle, which held the ball for more than 39 minutes on Dec. 2).
The Vikings were without running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison heading into the game.
Bad went to worse when Minnesota lost Eric Kendricks in the first half and Anthony Barr in the second half.
Minnesota failed to fully capitalize on three Packers turnovers, netting just 10 points. Green Bay scored eight (a touchdown and 2-point conversion) after its only takeaway.
The Packers turned the ball over on the third play of the game when Barr forced a fumble by Aaron Jones that Kendricks returned 24 yards to the 10.
The Vikings got a 5-yard run from Mike Boone on their first snap, but they followed with consecutive incompletions to C.J. Ham.
Anthony Harris picked off Aaron Rodgers on the first play of the second quarter, and Minnesota followed with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs three plays later for a 10-3 lead with 13:33 left in the second quarter.
After a drive that resulted in a field goal by Green Bay and a three-and-punt by Minnesota, Harrison Smith forced a fumble by Davante Adams at the Green Bay 49. Kendricks recovered the ball and returned it 1 yard. He was injured on the play.
The Vikings faced a third-and-4 at the 42 and turned to trickery with Diggs getting the ball on a reverse and attempting his first career pass. His throw to Kirk Cousins, however, sailed over the open quarterback's diving attempt.
A pass to Adam Thielen on fourth down with 2:37 left in the first half was unsuccessful. The receiver didn't record a catch on four targets.
The Vikings ran just two more plays in Packers territory the rest of the way.
The first was first-and-10 at the 46 in the third quarter. Cousins was intercepted on a deep pass to Diggs by Kevin King, who returned the ball 39 yards.
The second was a first-and-10 at the 49 with 4:40 left in the game. Cousins was sacked for a loss of 4. Minnesota appeared to bounce back with a 53-yard touchdown to Bisi Johnson on the next snap, but Riley Reiff was flagged for holding.
Instead of a score to make it a one-possession game, Minnesota wound up punting with 3:41 remaining.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Packers on Monday Night Football.
"I told them we were probably going to go for it there. So they had a chance to take a shot. So I told them during the week, take the shots."
— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer on the pass by Diggs
"Offensively we didn't play as well as we can play, I'll say that. And defensively, we could have played the run better. So there's a lot of things that we need to clean up."
"The play call? I thought it was a great call. I was wide open. It's just a tough deal. Just missed it by a few inches."
— QB Kirk Cousins on the trick play
"Just trying to bring him across the field and the backside corner sank, and so he made the play. Probably shouldn't have brought him across the field. Either take him vertically or progress on."
— Cousins on the interception
"It was definitely frustrating. We work all week on a game plan, and when things don't go as planned it is very frustrating. We tried to adjust to some things, but nothing was working."
— WR Stefon Diggs
"We have to put this one to bed. We need to correct the mistakes and move on to the next one. We need to try to not let the same mistakes happen again."
— LB Anthony Barr
"We have got to let it sting, know what we did wrong, watch the film and make corrections. However, we should definitely let it sting and then we should let it go after 24 hours or so. After that we get back to work. We are blessed to be able to play again. We have worked hard all season to put ourselves in this position, but we have got to do better in these kinds of games."
— LB Eric Kendricks
"He's obviously a key player for us. He is a great communicator, flies around the field, and makes a lot of key plays. Anytime any player goes down, one of your teammates or even the other team, it's always a tough thing."
— S Anthony Harris on Kendricks' injury