EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Blake Jarwin's cell phone has got to be an absolute mess right now – but he couldn't even say that for sure.
"I don't know, I haven't checked," he said with a laugh. "I texted my girlfriend immediately. I said 'I love you, it might be a while before I get back to you.'"
Judging by that response, it sounds like the Cowboys' second-year tight end is as smart off the field as he is on it. And on Sunday, those smarts translated to one of the best outings a Dallas tight end has ever had.
With no Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup, Dak Prescott turned to Jarwin as his primary target, hitting the former practice squad player seven times for 119 yards and three touchdowns.
Yes, three touchdowns – making him just the second Cowboys tight end to do so in team history.
"Dupree, right? Yeah, that's what they were telling me, in 1973," he said.
Stop and think about that for a moment. For a franchise that has employed the likes of Jason Witten and Jay Novacek, Jarwin became just the second tight end to catch three touchdowns in a game, and the first since Billy Joe Dupree did it 45 years ago.
That's crazy enough in its own right, but it's especially wild when considering that the tight end position has been such an afterthought this year.
Jarwin entered this game with just 20 catches for 188 yards – and that was after a fantastic finish to the season. In the last three games, he had managed 109 yards on 13 catches after managing just seven catches for 79 yards in the first two months of the season.
"Especially at this time in the year, it's great to be going full speed," he said. "It's great to be part of it, and if I walk away with zero catches and we win the ball game, I'm happy."
His seven catches tied a career high, to go along with the three touchdowns. And while he might not have had a chance to check his phone, he knew where the first of those touchdown balls would be going. Jarwin said a close friend of his lost his mother to cancer over the weekend, and he plans to get that ball to their family as soon as possible.
I've always thought about her as someone who is special to me," he said. "She's been battling for a while and lost that battle, so I'll probably ship that ball out to him today and I know it'll mean a lot to him."
It's not surprising to hear from a second-year player, but Jarwin downplayed his big afternoon a good bit. After all, he's on an offense with guys like Elliott and Amari Cooper, and Sunday's touchdown tally almost matched his lifetime total – four in college, none in high school.
That's fine. It makes sense for a young player to stay grounded. But make no mistake: Jarwin's continue emergence can only serve to help a red zone offense that has struggled throughout the season.
Jarwin's first two touchdowns came in the red zone, right down the middle of the field, and it wasn't lost on Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones what that additional play maker could mean for his team.
"The tight end's prescence in our offense, is an integral part of it," he said. "You add that to our running game and then give us our speed dimension out there then we are starting to complete the circle."
If that's what's happening, it couldn't be coming at a better time. It could give the Cowboys a crucial added element as they head into the playoffs – and it speaks to the importance of development in a young player who seems to be finding his way.
"Just for him to come out tonight and have the game that he had -- great catches, some run after catch, getting open on that pass scramble," Prescott said. "Credit to a guy that's just continuing to get better, that's bought in and is going to have a good career."