Kent Somers and Tim Tyers
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 13, 2004 12:00 AM

The Cardinals special teams, normally reliable, contributed greatly to Sunday's 31-28 overtime defeat.

They made at least five serious mistakes, ranging from Karl Williams mishandling a punt, to a missed field goal to three penalties.

"In many ways, some of our players who made mistakes are guys who normally don't," coach Dennis Green said. "Karl Williams had not mishandled a punt this year." advertisement

But in the second half, cornerback Duane Starks replaced Williams because Green was not happy with the production of the return team. Starks returned two punts for 22 yards.

Back to school?

***** coach Dennis Erickson, who has three years left on his contract, is rumored to be Mississippi's top candidate for its coaching job. Also, Erickson is to meet with ***** owner John York today, and speculation is it's about his future with the team.

But York denied Erickson's job is in jeopardy after the game and the meeting concerns other things, despite a two-win season.

All this comes after Erickson reportedly told General Manger Terry Donahue this weekend that under no circumstances will he fire any of his assistant coaches.

"Let me start by saying I am not going to answer any questions about meetings or the rumors out there," Erickson said after the game. "I am going to talk to you about this football game, and how hard we played, how they came back and all the things that happened today."

Forget me

Todd Peterson, a former Cardinals player in 1994 under Buddy Ryan, gave San Francisco its second win over Arizona with a 31-yard field goal in overtime.

Peterson wasn't into self-adulation.

"That's my job. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do? That's my role on the team," he said, when asked if he thought Erickson showed great confidence in him by deciding to kick the game winner on first down.

"Don't talk about me, talk about (running back) Maurice Hicks. An undrafted free agent goes out and runs for over 100 yards. That's pretty cool."

Lobbying effort

Quarterback Josh McCown was nearly penalized for excessive celebration after scoring a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

McCown's helmet came loose as he scored and he pulled it off. An official threw a flag but it was waved off.

"I wear that flimsy chin strap and my helmet tends to fall off," McCown said. "I didn't mean any disrespect by that, and I apologize because I didn't mean to pull it off."

Injury update

Right offensive tackle L.J. Shelton could be out for the remainder season after suffering an injury to his left knee.

Shelton likely will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today to determine the severity. If he can't play, he'll be replaced by Anthony Clement.