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Falcons' Adrian Clayborn gets money back for hit on Tom Brady

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- While one of his teammates just got hit with a significant fine, Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn received a nice chunk of money back following an appeal.

Clayborn, who was fined $18,231 for a hit on Tom Brady in Week 7, said he got the entire amount back after going through the appeals process.

"It's always nice to get that back and also, [to know] it wasn't an illegal hit," Clayborn told ESPN. "That's what I'm more concerned about."

Clayborn got flagged 15 yards for roughing the passer after hitting Brady on a second-quarter play, negating an interception by cornerback Robert Alford. The Falcons lost the Super Bowl rematch 23-7.

"Yeah, it sucks it took away an interception against Tom Brady that could have gotten us, I don't know, swing the game a little bit," Clayborn said, "but you can't take it back."

Several Falcons have been fined following unnecessary-roughness penalties this season, including cornerback Desmond Trufant this week. Trufant was fined $12,154 for attempting to punch but missing Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, as NFL.com first reported.

Clayborn said he's appealed fines before and won. He had a phone call with league officials to make his case.

"I don't play outside the rules," he said.

Clayborn, who leads the Falcons (9-6) with 9.5 sacks, could fill his wallet even more if he sacks Cam Newton in Sunday's regular-season finale against Carolina. He would collect a total of $1.25 million in bonuses for reaching 10 sacks for the first time in his career. Clayborn already guaranteed himself at least a $750,000 bonus for reaching eight sacks, aided by a franchise-record six-sack performance in a victory over the Dallas Cowboys.