Something important happened in the waning minutes of Denver’s Week 13 win at San Diego, although many Broncos fans might not have noticed. In fact, many members of the media who weren’t at Qualcomm Stadium might not have noticed.

With the game against the Chargers nearly in hand, the collective attention of Broncos Country had shifted to a much juicier story developing in New England. There, the Philadelphia Eagles were beating the Patriots. First by seven. Then by 14. Then by – gasp – 21 points!

Before the clock had hit the 2:00 minute warning in San Diego, Broncos fans and the Denver media were flooding social media, trumpeting the fact that “Denver now controls its own destiny in the AFC.”

And while that fact remains true (the Patriots went on to lose 35-28 and now the only team ahead of Denver in the standings, Cincinnati, must come to Denver on a Monday night after Christmas), it overlooked one crucial thing: The game against the Chargers wasn’t even over.

Sure, there were the obligatory, “if the Eagles hold on in New England” qualifiers. But no one was adding, “and if the Broncos hold on in San Diego.” It was a given. Denver was now in the driver’s seat in the AFC.

Witnesses to the Monday Night Football affair between Dallas and Washington were reminded that no NFL game is over until the clock strikes 00:00 (and sometimes not even then, as in the case of the Thursday night thriller between Detroit and Green Bay).

Meanwhile, back in San Diego on Sunday, at the 2:11 mark of the fourth quarter, Broncos  trainers were tending to safety David Bruton after he suffered a leg injury. Few fans or paid observers bothered to make mention of it; they were too busy playing out Broncos one-seed hypotheticals. Nor did they point out the fact that Omar Bolden was no longer on the field (he suffered a hamstring injury during the game) and that Josh Bush had been pressed into service. Bush, who was a street free agent six days prior, played nearly 33 percent of Denver’s snaps on Sunday.

Those stories were mere side notes to the idea that Denver now only needed to beat Cincinnati at home on Monday night of Week 16 to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Forget about closing out the win in San Diego, not to mention upcoming games against Oakland, Pittsburgh and the season finale against the Chargers. It was time to talk home-field advantage!

If that talk sounded familiar, it’s because it was the same variety that was spewing from the mouths of so many (including here at MHS) in Denver after the Broncos defeated the Packers to go 7-0. After that win, the talk shifted to what would happen when the 10-0 Broncos met the 10-0 Patriots. Well, the then-3-5 Colts made sure that didn’t happen.

And if that sounded familiar, it’s because it was a similar circumstance heading into the divisional round of the playoffs back in January. Those same Colts weren’t going to let a trip to New England scare them into defeat in the divisional round as the Broncos did.

In both instances, Denver – the team, the fans and the media – lost sight of the immediate task at hand and paid for it with a loss.

Even at 10-2, Denver has not yet clinched a playoff spot. The residents of Broncos Country would be wise to curb the No. 1 seed talk and focus on the next upcoming game, against the Oakland Raiders.

Bruton is expected to miss one to two weeks with strained knee ligaments. T.J. Ward, whom Bruton was replacing, could miss more time according to the team healing his ankle and Bolden is “going to be ‘touch and go’ through the course of the week.”

That’s three of Denver’s top four safeties, not to mention the other 18 players who were on the injury report prior to San Diego (or C.J. Anderson and Vernon Davis, who were also injured in the game), who could miss this Sunday’s matchup with the Raiders and the dynamic receiving duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

Yes, Denver controls its own destiny. It starts with getting healthy and winning a home game against Oakland. Thinking about anything else at this point is dangerous, as we’ve already seen twice this year.