Tampa Bay’s 2005 season has been over for nearly a month, but that hasn’t stopped rookie running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams from outrunning his opponents.

Williams was named the Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year on Thursday from Super XL in Detroit.

“Wow,” Williams said as he accepted his trophy in Detroit. “First of all, I’d like to thank God, who has given me the ability to do all of this. I’d also like to thank the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the whole staff, from the coaches to the general manager. I’d like to thank my teammates, who also made this possible. I know it’s an individual award, but I feel like once you get an individual award it’s also a team award, too. Most of all, I’d like to thank the fans who voted. I know without you all, it wouldn’t be possible.”

Williams, who was named the Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year on Jan. 4, rushed for 1,178 yards on 290 carries (4.1 avg.) and six touchdowns while catching 20 passes for 81 yards in 2005. He beat out Seattle’s Lofa Tatupu, San Diego’s Shawne Merriman, Cincinnati’s Odell Thurman and Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware for the Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year award.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back from Auburn broke several other records on the way to earning both Offensive Rookie of the Year awards.

Williams became the first running back in NFL history to rush for 100 yards in his first three games as a pro. His 434 rushing yards through the first three games of his career also set a new NFL record and got him named NFC Rookie of the Week three straight times and NFC Rookie of the Month in September.

A foot and hamstring injury temporarily derailed Williams’ sensational rookie debut, causing him to miss two and a half games and be limited in a few others.

But Williams got back on track in Atlanta on Nov. 20 by rushing for 116 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts en route to the Bucs’ 30-27 win over the Falcons.

From there, Cadillac drove home his case for winning both Rookie of the Year of the Year awards by producing 462 rushing yards and three touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s final five regular season games, four of which the Bucs won.

Williams finished the regular season with six 100-yard rushing efforts, and his 1,178 rushing yards broke Errict Rhett’s franchise rookie rushing record (1,011 yards) set back in 1994.

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