Anquan Boldin was so dominant as an NFL newcomer that he unanimously won The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
The sensational Arizona Cardinals wide receiver opened the season with the greatest debut in league history, catching 10 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a loss at Detroit. He never slowed down, and all 50 people on a nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters covering the NFL voted for Boldin on Monday.
"For me, it just shows that hard work pays off," said Boldin, who finished with 101 receptions for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns in making the Pro Bowl. "Since I've torn my ACL [in college], I haven't let up. I've been working out, continuing to try to get better and just progress. For me, it just shows what hard work can do."
Despite his hard work, Boldin couldn't carry the Cardinals out of last place in the NFC West. They finished 4-12, and coach Dave McGinnis was fired Monday.
Whoever replaces McGinnis has a building block in the 6-foot-1, 216-pound former quarterback at Florida State. He switched to receiver, but missed the entire 2001 collegiate season with the knee injury.
Boldin was drafted in the second round in April after clocking relatively slow times in the 40-yard dash. Arizona took another receiver, Bryant Johnson of Penn State in the first round.
But while Johnson did little this season, Boldin was a revelation.
He had a second 10-catch game, for 122 yards and a TD, at Seattle. He also had a nine-reception day and two games with eight catches. In all, he had five games with at least 118 yards receiving, and he had a two-touchdown outing vs. St. Louis.
Boldin wound up third in the NFL in receptions, and he also handled some punt returns for Arizona.
"I just came in here expecting to succeed and help this offense go," he said. "As far as the numbers go, I never expected to have this type of year."
He easily surpassed the rookie record of 90 receptions by Terry Glenn in 1996 and had the most yards receiving by a rookie in 43 years.
"It is mind-boggling," Boldin said. "But it's something that has to be year in and year out."
Boldin is the first member of the Arizona Cardinals to win the top offensive rookie honor. Two members of the franchise won the award when it was in St. Louis: running backs Ottis Anderson (1979) and Johnny Roland (1966).
Last year's winner was Denver running back Clinton Portis.