MINNEAPOLIS — On the third play from scrimmage Monday night, the Vikings defense jarred the ball loose and set Minnesota's offense up at the Green Bay 10-yard line.
The Vikings offense managed just five yards and three points on the possession. What felt like a missed opportunity hung over the unit's head all night, as the offense never got into sync in a frustrating 23-10 loss to the Packers.
Minnesota compiled a season-low 139 yards on 53 plays as Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins was sacked five times. The Vikings failed to gain a first down on eight of their 13 possessions, including the opening drive that was a first-and-goal.
"When you don't convert third downs and go three-and-out, you just don't have many bites at the apple to get going," Cousins said. "We certainly did not play well enough from start to finish tonight."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer added: "We just weren't as effective as we normally are. "Offensively, we didn't play as well as we can play."
Besides the opening-drive takeaway, Minnesota's defense also forced two more first-half turnovers.
Minnesota gained 41 total yards on those three ensuing drives, 21 of which came on a touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs.
Still, the 10 points off three Green bay turnovers felt like it should have been more, particularly since the Packers scored eight points (a touchdown and 2-point conversion) after Minnesota's lone turnover.
"Lights out. They did a great job," Diggs said of the Vikings defense. "You can't ask for more … we have to do a better job for those guys.
"It was really disappointing. You want to score points, but you want to score seven," Diggs added. "If you don't get seven, you're falling short of your goals. Three turnovers … we should have 21 points."
Of the 139 yards of offense by the Vikings, 63 of them came on three plays, accounting for 45.3 percent of the total yardage.
Diggs had the 21-yard touchdown and later had a 28-yard reception, while Ameer Abdullah had a 14-yard run on a draw play on third-and-19.
Abdullah led the Vikings with six catches, which went for 31 yards. Diggs had 57 yards on three receptions.
Adam Thielen was targeted four times and didn't have a reception, while Kyle Rudolph had one catch for seven yards. Irv Smith, Jr., had two catches for four yards, and fullback C.J. Ham had two catches for 12 yards.
Cousins finished the night by completing 16 of 31 passes for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His passer rating of 58.8 was his second-lowest of the season.
Minnesota attempted just 16 runs on the night, including five in the second half despite holding a 10-9 lead at the break.
The Vikings were without Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook, who missed the game with a shoulder injury. Backup Alexander Mattison missed the game with an ankle injury.
View game action images as the Vikings take on the Packers on Monday Night Football.
With 1,597 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns on the sideline, Vikings running backs managed 55 yards on 15 attempts.
"I still have a lot of faith in the backs that played tonight," Zimmer said. "We didn't move the ball as effectively as we wanted to … that's why the time of possession was what it was."
With Cook and Mattison out, the Vikings offense seemed to run less play-action and bootlegs for Cousins.
"They did a good job in different parts of their defense by taking that away," Cousins said of the Packers.
Added Zimmer: "They were doing a nice job on the outside to try and keep us from running those."
The Vikings are now 10-5 and will wrap up the regular season at home in Week 17 against the Bears.
Minnesota is already locked into the sixth seed, and will have to make a deep run in the NFC Playoffs on the road.
"They were better than us tonight," Abdullah said. "I'm expecting more out of everyone [on offense], but I know we'll bring it."