By Brian Burke
There were a total of 1,519 seconds left in the game. KC can burn 40 seconds between plays and 6 seconds during a typical play just by calling a super safe run (that stays in bounds) or even a kneel. Even if KC doesn't try to convert a single first down, they can burn 144 seconds on a series. However, IND can use its 3 timeouts to make one series only take 24 seconds off the game clock.
Because IND is due to receive the kickoff at 13:39 in the 3rd, KC was guaranteed to have at least three possessions--one between each theoretical IND TD. That means that just by kneeling, KC can burn a total of 456 seconds (7:36) off the game clock, which leaves a total of 1,207 seconds of game time (20:07) and no timeouts for IND to score 4 touchdowns.
But if we assume for one reason or another--a long kick return, a turnover, or perhaps a fortunate run--that KC found itself in easy FG range, then IND would be forced to score 5 times. This would give KC a minimum of 4 possessions rather than three, and they would be able to burn 456 seconds just by run/kneeling their way through the 2nd half.
That gives IND 1,063 seconds (17:43) to score 5 times, 4 of which must be TDs. That limits IND 3:33 per scoring drive with no timeouts!
It turns out IND had 6 possessions following the KC TD to go up by 28--5 TDs and an interception that KC in fact turned into a FG after gaining only 4 yards. IND also wasted a timeout following an incomplete pass prior to a KC FG. That means KC gets 5 opportunities to run/kneel and an extra 40 seconds between plays. They could have burned 640 seconds (10:40) without even trying to move the ball. The balance of time would have allowed IND only 2:55 per scoring drive, plus whatever time they burn on the non-scoring drive.
It's easy to criticize Andy Reid for not burning enough clock on offense in the second half, but the real blame goes to the Reid's defense. IND's 5 TD drives took 1:52, 1:28, 1:41, 4:02, and 1:15. "Prevent defense" is the butt of a lot of jokes, but there's a reason it exists--to stop teams from averaging 2:03 on 5 2nd-half TD drives. If there was ever a time to take away the sidelines and big passes over the top, that was it.
Admittedly, there is some hindsight in this analysis. But the point is to illustrate just how absurd the situation was. Keep in mind this scenario assumes zero first downs by KC, even due to penalty, and no time burned on kickoffs. Kneeling out virtually an entire second half is, of course, ludicrous. But doing so would still have forced IND to do the (nearly) impossible.