|(not the play I saw, a slightly exaggerated representation)|
85% - ball goes into the endzone, then comes out to the 20-yard line.
5% - ball bounces forwards or sideways and is downed at roughly the same spot or further up the field.
10% - ball rolls backwards a few yards and the defense downs it closer to the goal line.
My numbers are obviously subjective and inexact, but the premise is not: By letting the ball bounce around the 10-yard line, there is a good chance the offense will gain 10 yards to the 20, and a small chance they'll lose a few yards closer to end zone.
The first outcome has both a higher probability of happening, and a greater upside than the possible downside of the second outcome--so why do guys catch the ball so often?