You don't think of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's New England Patriots as a nearly team, but that's what they were becoming up until February's Super Bowl.
In February 2005, the Patriots won their third championship in four years, and were renowned as a modern dynasty in the NFL. Since then, they've been contenders every single year, but, amazingly, had not got the job done.
Two further Super Bowl appearances followed, and both times they were beaten by the unfancied New York Giants.
This year, they faced the previous year's champions, the Seattle Seahawks. What followed was one of the more memorable Super Bowls in recent history.
The Patriots, mired in pre-game controversy for a deflated football scandal, dominated most of the game, but found themselves defending their goal-line in the last minute.
Shockingly, the Seahawks chose to throw the ball, and an unheralded defensive back, Malcolm Butler, intercepted the ball and became an instantaneous Boston sports hero.
The Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick secured their legacy, and did it in the most dramatic of ways.
Off the Ball
As 2015 comes to a close, you'll read plenty of review pieces on our qualification for France, and almost as many on another failed Rugby World Cup. But there are some other teams from the past year that are just as worthy of our attention.