Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo said inconsistent play has crippled his team this year. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

As the Washington Redskins stumbled through another demoralizing defeat, they exhibited one of the few constants that has manifested itself this season, and that was an inability to play with any sense of consistency.

Now 11 games into the season, the Redskins have yet to find a way to sustain successes  whether small or large. The offense, for instance, may produce a positive play and pick up a chunk of yardage on one play, but then a sack, a missed block or an incomplete pass often follows. At times  like a stretch during the second quarter  the Redskins appear to catch fire. The team had positive gains on nine consecutive plays and moved the ball from its own 19 to the San Francisco 18. But then, an incompletion, a one-yard completion and another incompletion killed the drive and brought on the field goal unit.

On defense, the unit did a good job of stopping the run, limiting the 49ers to 76 yards (well below their average of 141 per game). But struggles in the passing game resulted in Washington surrendering six pass plays of 19 yards or more.

“Momentum and being consistent  those have been the No. 1 things,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “We can have our good days and we can have our bad days, and obviously we’ve had a lot of bad days  a lot of bad times. We’ve had some things that we’ve accomplished, but at the same time, we’re not very consistent. So that’s the one thing we need to fix.”

The inconsistencies have prevented the Redskins from building on last season’s 10-6 NFC East title-winning campaign. That 2012 team caught fire late in the year and reeled off seven consecutive wins to capture the division and earn a playoff bid.

That campaign sparked memories of the 2007 and 2005 seasons when the Redskins overcame slow starts to reach the postseason by winning their last four and five games of the regular season, respectively.

The Redskins held out hope prior to Monday that they could reel off another season-saving win streak. But now at 3-8 and last place in the division with only three NFC East matchups remaining, they virtually have been eliminated from any postseason contention.

Despite their hopes of another dramatic turnaround, many of Washington players acknowledge that the true key to success, and mark of a quality team, is playing consistently throughout the season.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been in this situation quite a few times,” said safety Reed Doughty, one of the longest-tenured members of the team. “I don’t know what it takes. I’ve been on two amazing five- and seven-game win-streak runs, but what I’ve learned in the past eight years, is those runs are few and far between. As a ball team, we’ve got to be more consistent. It’s hard to go on five- and seven-game runs all the time.”

Tweets from Ashburn:

Mike Shanahan spoke to reporters at 3 p.m. Some highlights:

What’s ahead:

● The Redskins practice at 11:40 a.m. on Wednesday and 10:25 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.

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