Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers: A heave that saved the Packers' season

DETROIT -- One throw -- one heave, really -- saved the Green Bay Packers' season.

And it was a bonus heave at that.

With the game extended for an untimed play after a face-mask penalty by Detroit Lions defensive end Devin Taylor on what would have been the final, lateral-happy play, Aaron Rodgers -- with all of his might -- launched a 61-yard bomb into the Ford Field end zone that tight end Richard Rodgers somehow came down with to give the Packers an improbable 27-23 victory after they trailed 20-0.

Aaron Rodgers launched it from about his own 35-yard line and Richard Rodgers caught it about four yards deep in the end zone, meaning the ball flew nearly 70 yards in the air.

Perhaps it was fitting -- or least soothing -- that during a season in which the Packers have desperately missed their downfield receiver Jordy Nelson, they finally found a way to make a big play when they needed it most.

"I'm out of breath," Aaron Rodgers said minutes later on the TV broadcast. "Most amazing game of my life. ... When he caught it, I blacked out."

What it means: The Packers (8-4) avoided getting swept by a division foe again. The last time it happened was 2009, when a Brett Favre-led Minnesota Vikings did it. The Lions' last sweep came in 1991, and the Bears last did it in 2007.

What were they thinking? Eddie Lacy was coming off his most productive stretch of the season with back-to-back 100-yard games against the Vikings and Bears. And yet James Starks got the start. Yes, Lacy has fumbled four times in his last five games, but he was the best thing going for the Packers' offense coming into this game.

One reason to get excited: General manager Ted Thompson made a roster move before the game when he promoted rookie running back John Crockett from the practice squad and released the seldom-used Alonzo Harris. Crockett started the second half and gave the Packers a little spark. After getting stuffed for no gain on his first carry, he had runs of 4 and 12 yards on the Packers' first touchdown drive of the game.

One reason to panic: The Packers are running out of offensive linemen. Already without right tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle) and right guard T.J. Lang (shoulder), they lost center Corey Linsley to an ankle injury in the first half, and then David Bakhtiari appeared to sustain a knee injury early in the fourth quarter. Josh Walker, their last available linemen, replaced him for one play and gave up a sack before Bakhtiari returned.

Fantasy watch: Davante Adams came in with the most catches (32) by any receiver without a touchdown this season. He finally caught one in the third quarter when Rodgers threaded the needle on a third-down play from the Lions' 8-yard line.

Ouch: In addition to the offensive line injuries, the Packers lost cornerbacks Quinten Rollins (arm) and Casey Hayward (unknown reason) for parts of the game.

Game ball: The only ball that mattered fell into the hands of Richard Rodgers, who ended up with eight catches for 146 yards.

Big sack: The Packers rested linebacker Julius Peppers in practice this week, the first time he hasn't practiced since he signed with the Packers in 2014, and it paid off. His strip-sack of Matthew Stafford in the third quarter helped get the Packers back into the game after they trailed 20-0.

What's next: One benefit of a Thursday game is the mini bye that follows. The Packers don't play against until Dec. 13 against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field.