Originally Posted by Jongb35
Actually, it's more difficult, and by a wide margin. Since 2000, passes on 3rd or 4th and 15 have been converted only 16.4 percent of the time (sample size of over 1,500). Non-surprise onside kicks get recovered at around a 30 percent rate.
The one thing no one is considering is that most of those 3rd/4th and 15 plays were not in desperation situations. If a team is up by 4-8 points with less than 2 minutes to play, they will play a soft defense giving up the short plays to protect against the big plays. Meaning, 4th and 15 will have a much higher conversion rate in those scenarios. That is even before you consider what VietCowboy said about several penalties negating any down and distance relevance.